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Scripps, Biotech to Partner on Feline Virus Research

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CytoDyn Inc., a biotechnology company in Lutz, Florida, has agreed to support research by Spripps Research Institute scientist John Elder on the company’s treatment for feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). Elder is a professor in Scripps’s Department of Immunology and Microbial Science in La Jolla, California.

Under the agreement CytoDyn’s subsidiary, CytoDyn Veterinary Medicine LLC will engage Elder’s services to explore the potential application of the company’s CytoFeline product as a treatment for FIV. The FIV virus — a distant relative of the human immunodeficiency virus or HIV — reportedly causes an AIDS-like syndrome in domestic cats, and is spread mainly through bite wounds. In the U.S., 1.5 to 3 percent of healthy cats are infected with FIV.

CytoFeline is an anti-adhesion molecule therapy being developed to treat domesticated and feral cats, but the company intends to study whether CytoFeline can also benefit the large cat population, specifically lions, tigers and other big cats found in zoos. CytoDyne says there is not a viable treatment for FIV infection currently available. Antiretroviral drugs used to treat HIV are considered too toxic for animals.

Elder’s research at Scripps has focused on the molecular and biological characterization of FIV, both as a unique disease and as a small-animal model for therapies to treat virus infections in both humans and cats. He has been a professor at Scripps since 1993.

CytoDyne says it recently filed a provisional patent application for use of its anti-adhesion molecule therapies to treat FIV infections, and has identified three candidate antibodies with potential for activity in the feline system.

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