Colorado State University today announced the launch of a new fund devoted to feline stem cell research. Frankie’s Fund, formed this month, will fund research into how feline stem cells may be used to treat injuries and diseases in cats.
Frankie’s Fund was initiated in July through the generous gift of a client whose 9-year-old Siamese cat, Frankie, became ill with acute kidney failure as a result of medication she received for an inflammatory mouth condition. Frankie participated in a CSU stem cell therapy clinical trial for cats with kidney failure in 2009.
“The establishment of Frankie’s Fund allows Colorado State University to continue to pursue stem cell therapy research and treatments for cats – something that is not widely available for cats. While such veterinary studies and treatments are available for dogs and horses at veterinary hospitals and clinics, including CSU’s equine stem cell programs, feline-focused programs are much rarer,” said Dr. Jessica Quimby, Frankie’s veterinarian at CSU. “This fund allows us to develop our program and research to gain a better understanding of the biology of stem cells, how they function and what treatments they may offer for various feline diseases.”
Frankie’s Fund will support research and future clinical trials for stem cell therapy targeting acute and chronic kidney failure, inflammatory bowel disease and possibly asthma.
The fund is initially supporting a new study using stem cells to help cats with chronic kidney disease. The CSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital is looking for cats who have a stable disease status to participate. Cats in the study will receive injections of stem cells derived from the fat of healthy cats over several months. The study is open to cats from across the United States through coordination with local vets. Cats with some conditions, such as heart disease, kidney infections, kidney stones, inflammatory bowel disease or other complications cannot participate.
Chronic kidney disease is a common, progressive disease in older cats and there is no definitive treatment other than a kidney transplant. Recent laboratory studies have shown that stem cell therapy has the potential to improve kidney function and prevent scarring that forms in the kidneys as a result of the disease. The current study will explore repeated intravenous stem cell injections for kidney failure in cats.
Frankie lived in Boulder until her recent death from cancer shortly before her 13th birthday. In December of 2009, Frankie was diagnosed with cancer and began a chemotherapy protocol developed by CSU. A kidney blockage precipitated total renal failure and she passed shortly before her 13th birthday. She was given home care for damage to her kidneys for several years before enrolling in the CSU program.
“Having lived in Boulder for decades I was well aware of the national reputation of Colorado State’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital,” said Deborah Felin Magaldi, Frankie’s owner. Magaldi is involved with several cat rescues and shelters and initiated the fund to help advance stem cell research for felines as well as humans. “Frankie was my best friend. She just happened to be a cat. Generously, she never held it against me that I was not.”
Donations to Frankie’s Fund can be made online at https://advancing.colostate.edu/frankiesfund.