First vaccine for cat AIDS approved for veterinary use

The first vaccine for feline immunodeficiency virus was approved for commercial production and veterinary use today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The patented vaccine for this disease, which is a cat form of AIDS, has been licensed for manufacture to Fort Dodge Animal Health, a division of Wyeth. Patents for the vaccine are held by the University of California and the University of Florida.

The vaccine should be available to veterinarians by this summer.

"This vaccine offers the first effective protection for cats against this often fatal disease," said Niels Pedersen, director of the Center for Companion Animal Health and an international authority on retroviruses and immunologic disorders of small animals. "The success of the FIV vaccine also offers hope that eventually a vaccine will be developed that will effectively protect against AIDS in humans."

Pedersen and immunologist Janet Yamamoto, now a professor in the University of Florida's College of Veterinary Medicine, first isolated the feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) in cats at UC Davis in 1986. Yamamoto began work on a vaccine for the virus at UC Davis and continued her research at the University of Florida, Gainesville. She has worked with researchers at Fort Dodge Animal Health for more than a decade to develop the vaccine.

"Formal approval of the vaccine is really a tribute to Dr. Yamamoto, who has doggedly persisted in pioneering this approach for an FIV vaccine," Pedersen said.

"We are delighted that many years of research are now coming to fruition and providing cat owners and veterinarians with a protective vaccine for FIV," added Larry Fox, director of technology transfer for UC Davis. Fox formerly was director of Corporate Molecular Biology at Abbott Laboratories, where he was involved in development of the first HIV assay and a subsequent recombinant DNA assay for HIV.

Research on vaccines for the different viruses that cause AI

Contact: Patricia Bailey
University of California - Davis

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