Latest News in Veterinary Clinical Studies

Study assesses electronic fences for cats
A study published recently in PLOS One suggested that electronic fences can be used to keep cats healthy and contained, when compared to free-roaming cats. The study, performed by researchers in the UK, found that cats contained with an electric device in at least 100 square meters of outdoor space were well adjusted and demonstrated confidence around new experiences.
Science 2.0 (9/12)

Researchers develop vaccination protocol to save Ethiopian wolf
The Ethiopian wolf population has been decimated by rabies and numbers about 500, but scientists hope to turn the tide with a rabies vaccination program if the Ethiopian government approves. Researchers testing various approaches had the most success when they placed a vaccine sachet into goat meat and intestines. 14 of 21 wolves caught afterwards had eaten the vaccine, and 86% of them were successfully immunized. National Geographic News (9/9)

Study: Giraffe was the result of unusually complex genetic changes

New research zeroes in on 46 genes that seem to play a regulatory role in the development of giraffe body systems, giving the tall ungulate its long neck, unique body shape and the cardiovascular and respiratory systems to support its morphology. The findings, reported by Douglas Cavener of Pennsylvania State University and his team in Nature Communications, suggest giraffes are the beneficiaries of an unusually complex series of changes, because genetic differences between similar species usually involve far fewer modifications, Cavener said. New Scientist (5/17)

Comparative oncology advances treatments for canine, feline, human patients
The National Cancer Institute's Center for Cancer Research created the Comparative Oncology Program to run clinical trials of cancer drugs in dogs and cats and then use that information to develop new treatments for people and their pets. Comparative oncology provides a bridge between laboratory and human trials, fueling development of drugs that might otherwise never advance beyond the lab. The Scientist online (4/1)

Zoobiquity conference brings veterinary, human medicine together
The sixth Zoobiquity conference, sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association and Penn Medicine, brought together veterinarians, physicians and researchers to highlight how studying the intersection of animal and human health can benefit all species. One such collaboration between physician Sigrid Veasey, who researches sleep apnea, and veterinarian Joan Hendricks, Penn Vet's dean, found a drug combination that improves sleep apnea in bulldogs could help people with the same problem. PhillyVoice (Philadelphia) (4/5)

Golden Retriever Lifetime Study yields early results
The Morris Animal Foundation's Golden Retriever Lifetime Study is enrolling 3,000 goldens from across the country, and the research is already yielding insights. The project aims to determine the effect of genetics and environment on the incidence of cancer in the dogs, 60% of whom die of cancer. Scientists working on the project have uncovered genetic mutations associated with disease risk and showed that purebred dogs aren't necessarily more prone to poor health than mixed-breed dogs. The findings are expected to advance human medicine, too. San Jose Mercury News (Calif.) (free registration) (3/21)

Test shows promise for detection of chronic wasting disease in live animals
Veterinarian Nicholas Haley and colleagues have developed a chronic wasting disease test that uses recto-anal mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue or nasal samples from live animals. The test would provide an alternative to immunohistochemistry on postmortem tissue samples. The results were published in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology, and the team plans to search for more sensitive tissues, bodily fluids or experimental conditions that could allow rapid, large-scale testing of cervids. (3/28)

Veterinarians test drug that could change cancer treatment for dogs and humans
A drug being tested at 20 veterinary clinics in Australia may revolutionize cancer treatment in humans and animals. Veterinarians are conducting a canine trial of the drug, which suppresses T-regulatory cells, leaving endogenous T-effector cells free to target cancer, and the results have been "mind-blowing" so far, said veterinarian Noam Pik. Veterinarians take serial blood samples and map the patient's immune system activity to determine the optimum time to administer the drug, a low-dose tablet with minimal side effects. Herald Sun (Melbourne, Australia) (tiered subscription model) (3/15)

Cats are more like people than some may think
Findings from nearly 3,000 cat personality assessments show that cats have five primary personality traits: skittishness, outgoingness, dominance, spontaneity and friendliness, researchers in Australia say. The traits correlate to human personality traits of neuroticism, akin to skittishness; extroversion, similar to outgoingness; and agreeability, which is like friendliness. The Cat Tracker project involves answering 52 questions and is ongoing. The Advertiser (Adelaide, Australia) (3/9)

Study tests use of echocardiogram for canine mitral valve disease
Most dogs who live longer than 10 years will develop mitral valve disease, but certain breeds are more at risk, says veterinarian Michele Borgarelli, an associate professor of cardiology at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech. Borgarelli is leading a study investigating whether echocardiography is as accurate as catheterization in assessing pulmonary pressure in dogs with mitral valve disease. He is also setting up a database of information on dogs with mitral valve disease. (3/4)

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