Saturday, November 12, 2016

A Cure For FIP? Clinical Trials Are Underway

Scientists are working on a cure for FIP.
Of all the awful diseases that can affect our cats, FIP is the absolute worst. It's a cruel disease, and it's almost always fatal. But that could be changing.

The first phase of clinical trials for a drug that could cure FIP ended this fall.

In a study published in the March issue of PLOS, researchers at Kansas State University treated eight cats who were sick from FIP with the antiviral protease inhibitor, GC376. Sadly, two of the cats became so sick they were euthanized. But the other six recovered and were still doing well eight months later. And that was just the beginning.

Last winter, in collaboration with the Kansas State Researchers, UC Davis veterinarian Niels Pedersen began the first phase of clinical trials of GC376 with 13 "owned" cats.

FIP Explained

FIP (Feline Infectious Peritonitis) is caused by a coronavirus that infects almost all kittens. It causes mild diarrhea, and then pretty much disappears. But in some cats, it goes rogue and mutates into the deadly disease we call FIP.

While most FIP victims are kittens, the virus can remain dormant in some cats' bodies for years and doesn't make them sick until they're well into adulthood or even old age. 

Signs of FIP can include abdominal swelling, weight loss, an unkempt coat and mental dullness. Once a cat gets sick, there's not much to do but provide palliative care. 

The Cure For FIP Is Still A Long Way Off

In the first phase of the clinical trials, Pedersen and his team looked at optimal doses and what forms of FIP and the length of illness were most responsive to treatment with GC376.

They learned that treatment requires at least 12 weeks and will cause a rapid reversal of FIP in some, but not all, cats.

One of the questions that remains to be answered is how long the remission will last.

But even after the researchers have finished gathering information, it could be a long time before GC376 is available to veterinarians.

First, Pedersen said in an interview with Catster, they'll need to find a pharmaceutical company that's willing to take GC376 through the long and expensive Federal Drug Administration testing and approval process.

Since "a company may not find it economically viable to spend the money necessary to gain FDA approval for a disease for a single animal species such as FIP," he added, "I would not want to speculate on if and when this particular drug may become commercially available for use by veterinarians."

Help For Cats With FIP Now

While GC376 may still be a long way from your vet's office, there are things to do for cats with FIP now.

Prednisone, interferons and some supplements and antioxidants can extend the length of life and improve the quality of life for cats with FIP.

To learn about treatments, take a look at leading FIP researcher Diane Addie's handout for veterinarians. And join the Support and Info for Owners of FIP cats email list on Yahoo Groups or the group's FIP Fighters Facebook page. You'll find all the information and support you need if you're caring for an FIP cat. 


  1. I'd heard of FIP, but in all my 71 years of loving cats, I'd never had one who actually had this disease until Pixie arrived. She was a very small, blue cream kitten -- maybe eight weeks old and semi-feral but soon a loving and extremely playful member of our family. She acted a little "off" one morning and we took her to the vet. Eight visits later, during which she was seen by a total of five vets, I knew she wasn't going to make it. I didn't want to keep her alive to suffer. One of the many ugly features of this illness is how difficult it is to diagnose. I hope that a test that clearly determines if a cat has FIP is found soon along with a cure. Prednisone, an appetite stimulant, and vitamins along with a wide variety of food, a feline companion to cuddle with, and a two-person team for administering medications kept Pixie alive for two months. She was only turning seven months when we said our final good-byes.

  2. I'm so sorry about Pixie. FIP is heartbreaking! I'm praying that all this research really does lead to a cure.

  3. My beautiful boy seems to have caught this im so broken...disperately looked for gc376 as a experiemental drug but doesnt seem we can have it...his abdomen is distended but still eating and waiting abdomen fluid test and blood test...i dont want to believe this

  4. I'm so sorry about your boy. Praying the tests are negative. I know it's frustrating that gc376 is available only for cats in the study. Have you come across other sources of information and help? There's an FIP email list on Yahoo Groups, The list also has a Facebook group, And check out Dr. Addie's website, I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for you and your boy.

  5. The first problem you need to handle when you get your cat is to get them their shots and spayed or neutered in order to stop some of the problems that will be talked about in this article. This Is Pet

  6. Thank you for your comment. Unfortunately, neutering/spaying and vaccinations do not prevent FIP.

  7. I just recently lost my boy at the age of 15, because of this horrible disease. We tried Prednizone and some other things, but he only lasted a couple of weeks after he presented with the belly swelling and a diagnosis.

  8. I"m so sorry about your cat. Yes, FIP is horrible! :(

  9. If this is the case that FIP is not easily diagnosed and doesn't necessarily show up when a kitten is young, how can breeders say the have FIP free kittens, or is this simply saying that their kittens do not show signs of FIP?