Research: Adaptation of HIV and FIV Research on Finding Effective Treatments
Awards: Somers Science Fair 2022 Participant
Research Location: Yonkers, NY
About 2.5-5% of healthy cats are infected with Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) in North America. Many cats aren’t diagnosed until they are older, which may later cause the cat to become severely infected, resulting in a lower life expectancy. Prominent symptoms that indicate FIV are loss in appetite, the change in the fur's texture, behavioral changes, and constant diarrhea. Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a similar disease to FIV and they come from the same retrovirus family. Common symptoms of HIV are muscle aches, rashes, chills, fever, and sore throat. A cure for both of these diseases has not been found yet, but with further research there is a possibility. The plan is to look for and use similar immunomodulators to Human Interferon Alpha, as used in a study by Esperanza Gomez-Lucia et al. on FIV-infected cats. The immunomodulator used would need to be non toxic towards the cats and inexpensive to use. I would use this study as a guide to proceed with the research, in which the cats are placed into different groups based on severity of the disease. Additionally, I would instead categorize cats according to severity as well as age, since the age could affect the results of the study. Depending on the way the immunomodulator has to be given, the immunomodulator will be carefully monitored and given to the cats. Each cat would also have to be naturally infected with the disease, meaning that the cats tested would not be injected with the virus. It is predicted that there will be a decrease of FIV cells in the cat's body and an increase of the antigens against it. There would also be a decrease in the symptoms, as in the study done by Esperanza Gomez-Lucia et al. Even though finding a cure for FIV using the method of immunomodulators is in early development, there is great potential of this being a treatment that can be used among the severe cases of naturally FIV-infected cats. If there are successful results, there could be further studies towards the immunomodulators effectiveness on cats infected with Feline Leukemia (FeLV).