The North American Veterinary Community (NAVC) Conference is held annually in Orlando. As KFI’s clinical veterinarian, I attended this year’s meeting from January 17thto 21st. This was my first NAVC, and I was greatly impressed by the variety of the scientific sessions, as well as the quality of the presenters and content! And if NAVC wasn’t enough, I also spent a day at the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA) conference in Toronto. Below are some “pearls” that I took away from these two excellent meetings:
- Canine osteoarthritis: A 2014 study of the prevalence of osteoarthritis (OA) in dogs (Darryl Millis, University of Tennessee) showed that radiographic evidence of OA was present in approximately 60% of dogs between 5 to 15 years old weighing greater than 11 kg. The most commonly affected joints were hips and tarsi (hocks), and most dogs had bilateral, multi-joint involvement. Multimodal therapy is the current standard of care for improving quality of life in dogs with OA. This includes: weight control/exercise, tailored use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (plus adjunctive drug therapy when indicated), early administration of chondroprotectants, feeding an omega fatty acid-rich diet, laser therapy, and physiotherapy. The high prevalence of canine OA suggests the need for continued development of effective therapies for chronic pain.
- Cats are not small dogs: Balanced anesthesia and analgesia in the feline is still a moving target! Work by Bruno Pypendop (University of California, Davis) and others have shown that the mean alveolar concentration (MAC) of isoflurane was not significantly reduced by systemic buprenorphine or dexmedetomidine, nor epidural morphine or buprenorphine. Studies of buprenorphine suggest inconsistent or inadequate bioavailability and poor clinical effect via the subcutaneous and oral transmucosal routes of administration. Intravenous or intramuscular administration is considered most appropriate, but onset to clinical effect may take up to 45 minutes.
- Feline environmental needs: The chronic, maladaptive stress response that results when these needs go unmet can contribute to behavioral and clinical disease, including feline idiopathic cystitis (FIC), inappropriate elimination, upper respiratory disease, gastrointestinal disease, and skin disease. The American Association of Feline Practitioners has identified the following Feline Environmental Needs:
- A safe hiding place
- Multiple and spatially separated environmental resources (namely, food and water bowls, litter boxes, resting places, and scratching places)
- Opportunity to express play and predatory behavior
- Positive, consistent human-cat interactions
- Attention to the cat’s sense of smell
Providing for these needs is quickly being recognized as an important part of feline health management. A study by Buffington and others showed that multimodal environmental modification resulted in a significant reduction in lower urinary tract signs in cats previously diagnosed with FIC.
- Veterinary biologics: The emergence of biologics as alternatives to small molecule drugs is an exciting new trend. Biologics are large molecules (usually proteins) produced by living systems; examples include hormones, interleukins, monoclonal antibodies, and growth factors. Advances in molecular biology now allow genetic modification of these living systems to produce targeted biologics. Veterinary applications currently in development are focused on feline diabetes mellitus, canine atopic dermatitis, chemotherapy, and chronic pain control. While these drugs are starting to be available in human medicine, several companies are looking at veterinary modalities and they will likely transform the therapeutic landscape.
- Networking: For veterinary contract research organizations, such as KFI, our clients and sponsors hail from the world over. Conferences such as NAVC and OVMA serve as great venues to meet with current and future sponsors and to “put a face to a name”. It is inspiring to be in the company of the great minds who are developing the next big things in veterinary medicine! This is also a time to step back and appreciate the big picture; recognizing KFI’s role in advancing new drugs from the pre-clinical world into practice is highly rewarding.
Lisa Sigismondo, BSc(H), DVM is KFI’s clinical veterinarian. She has overall responsibility for the welfare of KFI’s canine and feline colonies, is a member of KFI’s Animal Care Committee, and is an active participant in all research projects.