A new virus discovered last year by Sydney researchers is now believed to be a significant factor in the development of liver cancer in cats. Further research into the virus could lead to novel anti-cancer therapies and even vaccines to prevent some kinds of cancers in cats.
A team led by Julia Beatty, Professor of Feline Medicine at the University of Sydney’s School of Veterinary Science, found the recently discovered hepatitis B-like virus, called domestic cat hepadnavirus (DCH), in certain types of hepatitis and liver cancer in cats.
The significance of this research—published in Viruses—is that it suggests that DCH can cause liver diseases, including cancer in cats.
“Hepatitis B in people is a major global concern because it can lead to liver cancer and chronic hepatitis,” Professor Beatty said. “We wanted to know if the virus in cats does the same thing. We’ve found evidence that it probably does.”
In 2015, more than 850,000 people died from chronic hepatitis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). It is a major global concern as the infection is very difficult to clear from the liver.
Professor Beatty said the findings might also benefit humans in the long term.
But for now, it is a breakthrough in feline medicine because liver cancer in cats can be very hard to treat. This new discovery means researchers can now work towards vaccines and targeted treatments against the virus, and even vaccines to prevent other cancers in pets.
This story is sourced from a news article on the University of Sydney website.