Miki Society for Companion Animals
The Miki Society for Companion Animals, founded in 1988, supports research
to help pets live longer and healthier lives. Gifts are made to the Miki
Society by veterinarians, by pet owners and their friends, and by people
who simply love animals. Many gifts are made in memory of a beloved pet.
Veterinarians participating in the Miki Society use the program to reach
out to clients in sympathy and remembrance. When a client's pet dies,
their veterinarian makes a Miki Society donation in the pet's name. The
College then sends out a letter to the veterinarian's client, notifying
them of the donation.
In 2002, Miki Society veterinarians and friends donated a total of $45,979.
Miki Society donations fund vital research at the College, including providing
seed money for new research programs, enhancing existing research programs,
and helping researchers to bridge funding gaps to encourage innovative
Projects funded through the Miki Society in 2002-2003 are:
Drs. Heather Connally and Mary Anna Thrall received a $15,000 grant
to continue evaluating fomepizole, an alcohol dehydrogenase inhibitor,
as an antidote for antifreeze (ethylene glycol) poisoning in cats. Alcohol
dehydrogenase, a liver enzyme, is responsible for the formation of toxic
metabolites of ethylene glycol. When this enzyme is inactivated, ethylene
glycol is eliminated without causing renal failure.
The historic antidote for this common and often fatal poisoning has been
ethanol, which competes for the active site on the enzyme, but ethanol
has numerous disadvantages, including central nervous system depression.
Although Dr. Thrall's group showed in the early 1980s that fomepizole
was superior to ethanol for therapy of antifreeze poisoning in dogs, attempts
to treat cats with the same dose of fomepizole have been unsuccessful.
Dr. Connally's earlier research compared the interaction of alcohol and
fomepizole with feline and canine alcohol dehydrogenase in vitro; the
results of these studies suggested that a 6-fold higher dose of fomepizole
would be an effective therapy for ethylene glycol-poisoned cats. This
current study has shown that high dose fomepizole in cats is a safe and
more effective therapy for antifreeze poisoning than is ethanol, and is
also much less labor intensive. However, like ethanol, it is only effective
at preventing acute, fatal, kidney failure when treatment is instituted
very quickly, usually within three hours of ingestion of antifreeze. As
a result of this successful pilot study, a clinical trial will now be
performed, in which owners of cats with antifreeze poisoning will be offered
the option of fomepizole therapy. Early diagnosis and treatment remain
critical for a successful outcome.
Dr. Elizabeth Pluhar received $21,000 to study dietary supplements
that may have beneficial effects for dogs suffering from osteoarthritis.
Research has shown that dietary supplementation with certain polyunsaturated
fatty acids found in fish oil can have many beneficial biological effects.
One of these effects is to control the levels of mediators of inflammation
that are active in slowly progressive diseases such as osteoarthritis.
Dietary supplementation with fish oil may reduce the production of substances
that lead to joint degeneration and thereby slow or halt the progression
of osteoarthritis. Fish oil added to a dry dog food has been shown to
have beneficial effects in dogs with osteoarthritis of the stifle or knee
joints. The study funded by the Miki Society will determine if oral fish
oil caplets will have similar beneficial effects in dogs with painful
joints from osteoarthritis by measuring levels of the inflammatory substances
in blood and joint fluid and checking for improvement in the dogs' symptoms
with gait analysis, joint range of motion, and subjective clinical orthopedic
Dr. Cynthia Powell received $11,000 to study uveitis in cats. Uveitis
is one of the most common eye disorders of domestic cats, but the cause
of uveitis often is not identified. The goal of Dr. Powell's research
is to further define the pathogenesis of uveitis by using immunohistochemistry
to identify lymphocyte subsets in the uveal tissues of cats with and without
uveitis. Her research team also will try to prove a disease association
with ocular infection by feline herpesvirus-1, T. gondii and Bartonella
spp., by using polymerase chain reaction testing to identify their DNA
in ocular tissues of cats with uveitis.
Dr. Kyra Somers received a $6,500 grant to conduct further studies
on Niemann-Pick C1 disease (NPC1), a rare, genetically inherited metabolic
disorder. Patients with the progressively degenerative disease are not
able to metabolize cholesterol and other lipids properly within the cell.
Excessive amounts of cholesterol accumulate within the liver and spleen,
and excessive amounts of other lipids accumulate in the brain. No effective
treatments are available and the disease always results in death, typically
in late childhood. Cats also are afflicted with Niemann-Pick C1 and are
an excellent model for study of the disease in humans.
The goal of Dr. Somers' research proposal is to characterize the NPC1
protein in feline fibroblasts. The exact function of the NPC1 protein
remains unknown, but the field is advancing rapidly and an understanding
of the function(s) for the NPC1 protein will likely be determined in the
near future. The availability of both the rodent and feline models for
NPC1 disease, along with antibodies that have been characterized to their
respective NPC1 proteins, will play a pivotal role in understanding the
pathogenesis of NPC1 disease and in the development of possible treatments
for cats and people.
Dr. Ralf Mueller received a $3,000 grant to initiate a study examining
the use of bacteria to treat atopic dermatitis in dogs. Allergies are
increasingly common in dogs and pose a challenge to veterinarians around
the world for effective treatment. In Scandinavia it was discovered that
infants with atopic disease have a different population of intestinal
bacteria compared to healthy babies. Researchers found that supplementing
with the bacteria Lactobacillus sp. could change the immune response in
allergic children and prevent the onset of allergic disease. Dr. Mueller
wants to find out if a similar approach will help treat atopic dermatitis
in dogs. In a pilot study, his research team will supplement dogs with
atopic dermatitis for 8 weeks with Lactobacilli and evaluate the clinical
signs as well as the allergen-specific T cell response before and after
supplementation. If there is a significant clinical improvement, he will
further evaluate Lactobacillus supplementation as a treatment for canine
atopic dermatitis in a larger study.