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Success Stories

Wins for Winn researchers

Winn is pleased to showcase some recent success stories in research projects supported by our foundation.

“Simon Says”

Simon participated in a Winn Feline Foundation study that seeks to help cats suffering from high-grade lymphoma. Read his story.

Simon Says: A Winn Success Story

Dr. Bridgett Mitchell, DVM, has treated numerous cats in her private practice so when Simon, her domestic longhaired orange tabby, was diagnosed with high-grade lymphoblastic lymphoma, Dr. Mitchell understood the seriousness of the disease and immediately contacted the Oncology Service at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital (VTH) at North Carolina State University (NCSU).

“Simon is a talker,” says Bridgett. “When he enters a room, he quickly lets you know what he needs by his vocalizations. I became concerned when I noticed he stopped grooming himself and he wouldn’t sit on his favorite ottoman and he didn’t sound like himself.”

Simon was facing a serious challenge. Systemic chemotherapy is the typical treatment for cats with high-grade lymphoblastic lymphoma. Unfortunately, cats have a relatively poor response to standard chemotherapy treatment with only 30 to 65% responding to therapy for durations lasting 6-10 months on average.

While she was aware of the statistics, Bridgett hoped that they did not apply to her companion. She was determined to uncover any option that would promise a longer, quality of life for Simon. The timing of Simon’s illness was difficult. Bridgett had suffered the loss of her grandmother as well as her dog and horse shortly prior to Simon’s diagnosis. She needed Simon, now more than ever.

Hope came in the form of clinical trial being conducted by Dr. Laurel Williams, DVM, DACVIM (Oncology), associate professor of oncology at NCSU. Dr. Williams is the principal investigator in a multi-institutional study looking at the effects of abdominal cavity radiation therapy following chemotherapy in cats with this type of lymphoma. Funded by Winn Feline Foundation, the study aims to increase the odds for cats like Simon.

Bridgett readily agreed to have Simon participate in the study and the cat underwent his initial six weeks of standard chemotherapy followed by novel radiation treatments to attack the lymphoma that was slowly invading his body. Dr. Williams noted that Simon tolerated the treatments well and never stopped purring and vocalizing for his owner. He soon became well-known and loved by the entire VTH staff from clinicians to technicians to support personnel, all of whom admired his personality and vigor. “It was clear that there was something special about Simon,” says Dr. Williams, adding that his spirit helped him in his fight against the disease.

Prior to his diagnosis, Simon was a large, muscular cat weighing more than 12 pounds. His weight dropped to below 10 pounds prior to treatment. Fast forwarding to 17 months later, a healthy Simon topped the scale at greater than 14 pounds. “We are so excited and encouraged to have Simon with us, some 17 months after his initial diagnosis,” says Bridgett. “He is doing great and enjoying his life of 11 years!”

Simon was one of the lucky ones — owned by an observant veterinarian who caught the danger signs early and entered him into a novel clinical trial that focused on his particular disease. Cats frequently do not show the affects of an illness until they are very sick and weak and their systems become too compromised for aggressive treatments. A cat with Simon’s form of lymphoma, for example, may not make it through the initial treatments because of the aggressive nature of this cancer. “Simon is a good example of the advantages that clinical trials can provide to animals with existing diseases,” says Dr. Williams. “Not only has Simon benefited from this Winn Feline Foundation study, he also contributed medical knowledge to the treatment of other cats for years to come. This study will need several more cases to arrive at the stage where we complete recruitment. It is exciting, so far, to see a better than otherwise anticipated outcome for this disease. We are thrilled to see Simon alive and thriving. We are hopeful that we will be able to recruit more cats with this form of cancer to complete the study and truly change outcomes for cats and their owners.” Bridgett concurs, and she now shares Simon’s experience to help her clients who are facing similar challenges with their cats. – Julie Nettifee Osborne, RVT, BS

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Eradicating ringworm with disinfectants

A recent publication in Veterinary Dermatology discusses the efficacy of commercial disinfectants against ringworm. The researchers, funded in part by Winn Feline Foundation, set out to determine the efficacy of eight over-the-counter disinfectants at killing the dermatophytes Microsporum canis and Trichophyton mentagrophytes. Read the results here.