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Innovative Diagnostic Test Invented to Combat Common Cat Cancer

Innovative Diagnostic Test Invented to Combat Common Cat Cancer

We are thrilled to share a significant advancement in the fight against a prevalent type of cat cancer.

Congratulations to Dr. Shana Owens from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), who recently won the prestigious Governor’s Cup for her development of a diagnostic test for cats. This test can detect a virus linked to a lethal cancer of the digestive tract, gastrointestinal (GI) lymphoma.

Marmalade, a beloved feline and cancer survivor, faced this very cancer, overcoming it after being diagnosed in 2014. Marmalade’s survival story highlights the critical need for such innovations. Here’s a snapshot of Marmalade from 2021:

A Common Threat to Feline Health

When Marmalade was diagnosed, there was no available test for the Felis catus gammaherpesvirus 1 (FcaGHV1), the virus responsible for this widespread cat cancer. The virus was only identified through Marmalade’s diagnosis.

Virus Impacting 32% of Cats Globally

This herpesvirus is an endemic potential pathogen affecting an estimated 32% of cats worldwide. Dr. Owens’s breakthrough could potentially save countless lives by enabling early detection of the virus, allowing veterinarians to intervene sooner and possibly prevent the onset of cancer.

The rapid test developed by Dr. Owens promises quick results from just a small blood sample, enabling veterinarians to determine if a cat is carrying the virus within minutes.

From Academic Project to Life-Saving Innovation

Dr. Owens, a postdoctoral fellow, originally developed this test as part of a competitive entrepreneurship training program at an Arkansas business college. Through her interactions with veterinarians, she recognized the urgent need for a diagnostic tool for GI lymphomas, a prevalent issue among cats. Her initiative led to the development of a prototype with the help of local veterinarians who were eager for a solution.

In March 2021, Dr. Owens proposed the creation of this test to her program leaders, and by November, she had secured a provisional patent. Reflecting on the rapid progress of her project, Dr. Owens remarked, “This really snowballed. If you had asked me a year ago if I would be working on an assay for cats right now, I probably would have told you you’re crazy.”

GammaFlow Test: A New Hope in Cat Cancer Treatment

Following her successful project, Dr. Owens founded GammaVet and took on the role of CEO. Her company is now focusing on bringing the GammaFlow test to market using the prize money from the Governor’s Cup. This diagnostic tool will empower veterinarians worldwide to detect and potentially curb GI lymphoma in cats like Marmalade.

As Dr. Owens embarks on her new journey as a CEO, we wish her immense success and hope her innovation will benefit cats globally. Additionally, since the virus shares genetic similarities with certain human viruses, this research might also advance human medical studies, continuing the trend of feline studies benefiting human health in remarkable ways.


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