Gerlinde Van de Walle, DVM, PhD

Evaluation of antiviral drugs in an air-cooled corneal organ culture system of FHV-1 infection

Gerlinde Van de Walle, DVM, PhD

Thanks to funding from the Cornell Feline Health Center, cats may soon get a better treatment for feline herpes virus 1 (FHV-1) eye infections. FHV-1 is a frequent cause of corneal infections in cats (the cornea is the clear covering of the eye). However, the drugs that are currently used to treat these infections must be applied multiple times a day and often there is scant scientific evidence to support their use.

Dr. Gerlinde Van de Walle and her team have developed a model system that can be used to test drugs for treating these eye infections, and early results have pointed to a new drug for treating FHV-1. Using the model system, the Van de Walle lab tested the antiviral drug raltegravir, which is currently used to treat HIV infections in humans, as a therapy for FHV-1 infection. They found that raltegravir therapy appears to be as effective as the current front-line therapies, but only has to be given half as often to achieve the same effects.

Given these promising results, Van de Walle and her team are following up with raltegravir, studying the possibility that the drug boosts the immune system to fight infection. See page 14 for an update on this work.