Although there have been over 500 clinical and research publications on FIP since 1963, solutions to the disease have eluded researchers. However, that situation is now changing: the sequencing of the entire feline genome is almost complete and will provide researchers with a set of tools of unprecedented power to answer some of the important remaining questions about FIP.
The feline genome project may allow us to discover the gene or genes that are involved in FIP susceptibility and resistance, and to develop tests to identify cats that carry these traits. UC Davis researchers are in the process of acquiring samples for a study involving purebred cats so that they will have essential DNA samples and pedigree information for affected and non-affected cats. They are also interested in obtaining samples from any cat that is known to have FIP.
Over the last decade, researchers have also acquired the ability to rapidly extract and sequence entire virus genomes and to study how the virus and host cells interact, which is important for eventual anti-viral drug development.
With this array of new tools and techniques, and the insights and understanding that have already been achieved through decades of research, there is every reason to hope that a breakthrough in FIP disease identification and management will be found. To achieve that breakthrough, funds are needed to support FIP research as well as to purchase the vital DNA chips that are needed for genetic studies.