Good news for senior cats: US FDA approves drug for arthritis in aged felines

WION Web Team
Washington, United States Published: Jan 14, 2022, 09:30 AM(IST)

60 per cent of cats aged six and older and 90 per cent of cats older than 12 years are thought to suffer from Osteoarthritis. Photograph:( Others )

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Wear and tear of the cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones leads to osteoarthritis. When the bones in a joint rub against each other, they cause pain and lessen movement, and occasionally cause bone spurs

We have some great news for senior cats who wish to get a new lease on life, senior felines hoping to get a spring back in their step.

For the first time ever, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a monoclonal antibody drug for controlling pain associated with osteoarthritis in cats. It is also the first monoclonal antibody drug approved by the FDA for any animal species.

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During the pandemic, these lab-grown proteins had garnered headlines for preventing severe illness in high-risk people with Covid.

Wear and tear of the cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones leads to osteoarthritis. When the bones in a joint rub against each other, they cause pain and lessen movement, and occasionally cause bone spurs.

60 per cent of cats aged six and older and 90 per cent of cats older than 12 years are thought to suffer from this condition.

"Advancements in modern veterinary medicine have been instrumental in extending the lives of many animals, including cats," said Steven Solomon, director of the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine, in a statement.

"But with longer lives come chronic diseases, such as osteoarthritis," he added.

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New injectable drug 'Solensia' attaches itself to a protein called nerve growth factor (NGF) that is involved in the regulation of pain. 

The medicine's active ingredient 'frunevetmab' binds itself to NGF, which prevents pain signals from reaching the brain.

Due to the fact that cats cannot directly express their symptoms, researchers asked their owners about their animals' ability to jump onto furniture, use their litter box, or groom themselves, and compared their abilities with before they developed osteoarthritis. 

The owners were then asked to assess their cats' responses after receiving treatment. 

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During randomized clinical trials, cats in the treatment group performed better on assessments than those receiving placebos.

This medicine is injected subcutaneously by a veterinarian once a month and its side effects include vomiting, diarrhoea, injection site pain, scabbing on the head and neck, dermatitis and pruritus (itching). 

However, the side effects were mild and did not require discontinuing the treatment. 

(With inputs from agencies)

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