Notebook: August 2022

News briefs from across the industry and beyond. This month’s articles include:

  • MSU Surgeons Repair Kitten’s Fracture with Patented Surgical Nail
  • Simple Steps to Increase Energy Efficiency
  • Poodle-Cross Pups and Purebred Parents: By the Numbers

and more!

ElleVet Project to Offer Free Veterinary Care to Pets in Vulnerable Communities

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The ElleVet Project—the national nonprofit of ElleVet Sciences—has announced the return of its veterinary relief tour providing free veterinary care, food, and supplies to pets in vulnerable communities throughout the United States. The tour began on June 2, 2022, and continues throughout the year. With an expanded list of states and cities, the ElleVet Project plans to reach thousands of animals this year. The complete schedule of dates and locations, as well as information about donations, is available on the ElleVet Project’s website.

The project hosts a rotating team of veterinarians who provide free care to the most vulnerable animals. They partner with community-focused sponsors that donate medical supplies, food, and local professional assistance. Services offered range from vaccines, flea and tick preventives, deworming, and general checkups to emergency surgeries.

“By expanding this year’s relief efforts to five new cities—Seattle, Portland, Boston, Chicago, and New York City—we will be able to reach more people and their much-loved pets,” said Amanda Howland, company cofounder and COO. “Our efforts these past few years have taught us firsthand how helping a pet can change their owner’s life for the better both emotionally and physically.”

“It has been incredible to see the steady growth of the ElleVet Project,” said cofounder and CEO Christian Kjaer. “We are excited to see the impact we will make this year in helping thousands of pets.”


AAVMC 2021–2022 Annual Data Report

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In 2021–2022, total enrollment in US colleges of veterinary medicine rose 4.7% over the previous year. Among those enrolled, the number of students from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups is higher than ever before at 23.2%. However, the percentage of men enrolled continues to decline, dropping a full percentage point from the previous year to 17.3%.

These are some of the highlights of the recently released 2021–2022 Annual Data Report (ADR), published by the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) and now available on the AAVMC website.

The ADR provides a comprehensive statistical portrait of the world of academic veterinary medicine. Other highlights from 2021–2022 include:

  • 3,460 Americans are studying veterinary medicine outside of the US this academic year.
  • Resident and nonresident tuition saw modest increases this year, 0.6% and 1.4%, respectively.
  • Debt levels for indebted graduates stayed level in 2021.

On average, tuition made up only 16.4% of college revenue, while instruction, academics, and student support made up nearly a quarter of college expenditures.

The report contains data on enrollment, diversity, applicants, tuition and debt, personnel, budget, and other areas. It’s produced on a dynamic, interactive software platform that enables users to explore information based on specific areas of interest in academic veterinary medicine.


Simple Steps to Increase Energy Efficiency

Small business owners everywhere are taking big steps to fight climate change and forge a more sustainable future. For example, California-based Ubiquitous Energy—a funding recipient of Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR)—developed a transparent coating that enables window glass to generate solar power, thus reducing a building’s carbon footprint.

Even if your company isn’t developing game-changing technologies, there are simple steps you can take to save energy and money while also lowering emissions. Here are a few examples:

Lighting: Making simple lighting adjustments to your place of business can lower your emissions and help you save on your electricity bills. The first step is to turn off lights when they aren’t needed. Next, upgrade your lightbulbs to highly efficient light-emitting diodes, or LEDs. It’s estimated that LEDs use about 75% less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescent lighting. Lastly, consider installing “occupant sensors” to automatically turn lights on and off. You can also install timers on outside lights.

Office equipment: Commonsense measures can go a long way toward increasing your business’s energy efficiency. Start by turning off office equipment when it’s not in use. If your computers aren’t being used for a while, consider placing them in a low-power “sleep” mode. You can also use advanced power strips to prevent your electronics and office equipment from drawing energy when they don’t need it. Finally, print double-sided pages to save paper, and reduce energy spent on printing if an electronic format is possible.

Buildings: Buildings account for about 38% of total energy consumption. To make your facility more energy-efficient, block direct sunlight from shining through windows in the summer—but let the sun in during the day in the winter—while covering the windows at night during both seasons. Sealing windows and doors with weather stripping or caulk can help you prevent air leaks, further saving you energy and money on heating and cooling.

For more ways to save energy and money, check out the Energy Department’s Energy Saver Guide at energy.gov/energysaver/articles/energy-saver-guide.

Poodle-Cross Pups and Purebred Parents: By the Numbers

GettyImages-1317846746.jpgResearchers at Virginia-based biotech company InBio report progress toward developing a hypoallergenic cat in an article published online in The CRISPR Journal. Company researchers have deleted the genes for the allergy-causing protein in cat cells as a first step toward creating cats that don’t trigger allergies. “The estimated timeline for this is several years,” said Nicole Brackett, who leads the CRISPR cat team at InBio.

The company reports that about 15% of people have allergic reactions to cats. The main cause of this is a small protein called Fel d 1 that is secreted by salivary and skin glands. It is spread over cats’ fur when felines clean themselves and can become airborne as the fur dries.

The team deleted Fel d 1 subunit genes from cat cells growing in culture using the CRISPR genome editing technique. The next step will be to delete all copies of the two genes at once and to confirm that this prevents cells from making the Fel d 1 protein. At that time, the team reports they will try to create cats that lack the genes. “[We have] no particular cat breeds in mind at the moment,” said Brackett.

UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine Leads the Way in Establishing Nephrology and Urology Specialty

1920px-The_University_of_California_Davis.svg.pngThe American College of Veterinary Nephrology and Urology (ACVNU), veterinary medicine’s newest specialty discipline, has provisionally been recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) American Board of Veterinary Specialties.

ACVNU’s establishment has been championed by Larry Cowgill, DVM, PhD, DACVIM, a professor at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, along with an organizing committee of leading experts in the field. In a UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine press release, Cowgill said, “We have dedicated leadership now for this specialty. With that critical mass . . . to populate the field, we can continue our advancements in therapeutic expertise and train more professionals to continue this specialty.”

ACVNU aims to provide specialized diagnostic and therapeutic options for patients, a unique training vision in the form of a two-year residency, and an advanced standard of care for the management of urinary disease. UC Davis will play a vital role in that training.

Cowgill, a pioneer in the field, will serve as ACVNU’s first president. Over the past 40 years, he has helped UC Davis evolve into a world leader in renal medicine and extracorporeal (outside of the body) therapies. He also established the first veterinary centers where clinicians can receive advanced training in kidney disease and procedures such as hemodialysis and therapeutic plasma exchange.

Cowgill leads two advanced, state-ofthe-art centers for the treatment of urinary disease, the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (VMTH) and its Southern California satellite facility, the UC Veterinary Medical Center, San Diego (UCVMC-SD). These UC Davis locations were the first, and are currently the most prominent, locations in California for pets to receive hemodialysis and other advanced treatments for chronic kidney and urinary diseases. Both centers will be initial training centers for ACVNU and will likely establish the initial benchmark for training programs.

According to an AVMA press release, ACVNU’s training program will require participants to already be board certified in another specialty discipline or have four equivalent years of experience in nephrology and urology.

“The advances we will make in nephrology and urology as a specialty will translate to other specialty groups and into general practice,” Cowgill said in the release.

The ACVNU residency program is anticipated to begin at UC Davis in 2023.

 

Clinical Trial Tests New Combinations of Immunotherapy Drugs to Treat Osteosarcoma

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When Patricia and Zach Mendonca’s two-year-old Labrador retriever cross, Jelly Bean, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, the leg was amputated and Jelly Bean started chemotherapy at Ocean State Veterinary Services in Rhode Island.

Osteosarcoma starts in the bone and can travel through the bloodstream. Despite chemotherapy treatment, the cancer spread to Jelly Bean’s lungs. Doctors at Ocean State suggested looking into a clinical trial at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University.

In a press release from the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Holly Moriarty describes the clinical trial that helped Jelly Bean. Researchers in that clinical trial were testing combinations of three immunotherapy medications to treat dogs with metastatic osteosarcoma with spread to the lungs. Cummings School jointly launched the trial with Colorado State University (running a parallel study) in 2018, funded by the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Moonshot initiative.

Moriarty quotes Cheryl London, DVM, PhD, DACVIM (Oncology), “This clinical trial is entirely novel as there are few, if any, treatments that work in the setting of metastatic osteosarcoma.” London is director of the Clinical Trials Office and associate dean for research and graduate education at Cummings School.

Typically, dogs with osteosarcoma live only 8 to 10 weeks once the cancer spreads to the lungs, even with treatment.

Natalie Smith, DVM, a specialty intern in Clinical Trials at Cummings School, told Moriarty, “We’re trying to come up with treatment options to have more time—and more quality time—than 8 to 10 weeks. . . . This is a unique combination of medicines that don’t kill cancer cells directly, but rather stimulate and retrain the dog’s immune system to kill the cancer cells itself.”

To date, 43 dogs have participated in the study, with most lasting four months. Jelly Bean entered the trial in October 2020 and, at the time of the press release, was approaching her 18-month mark.

“I didn’t expect much to come of it,” Patricia admits. “But by December, it was our Christmas miracle.”

Within two months, the masses in Jelly Bean’s chest had shrunk, and by March, they disappeared from her X-rays.

While the trial is still ongoing, the doctors reveal that the medications are stabilizing cancer in most of the dogs, giving them, on average, several more months of life instead of several weeks.

This trial could potentially impact treatment for humans as well.


MSU Surgeons Repair Kitten’s Fracture with Patented Surgical Nail

MSU.jpgOtis, a seven-month-old kitten, recently made history at the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine when, during surgery to repair a humeral fracture, he became the first cat ever to have an I-Loc 4-mm interlocking nail placed in his humerus. Katheryn L. Sullivan Kutil reported this story in an article for Michigan State University’s Vetschool Tails.

Otis’s owners sought reparative treatments but were repeatedly offered amputation until they spoke with Danielle Marturello, DVM, MS, DACVS, of the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine, Orthopedic Surgery Service. “I remember saying, ‘Please don’t cut it off! We can fix this,’” said Marturello. “Because we have such great expertise at MSU and the proper tools, we can fix most fractures without amputation.”

Loïc Déjardin, DVM, MS, DACVS, DECVS, head of the MSU Orthopedic Surgery Service, patented the I-Loc nail. It provides stable repair of fractures in long bones, like the humerus, when implanted in the bone and locked with bolts.

Marturello said, “Our options were a 3-mm nail or a 4-mm nail. In our experience thus far, no cat humerus has been large enough to accept a 4-mm nail. However, in Otis’ case, we were concerned about the open growth plate at the top of his bone, and we knew that we would only be able to place one bolt [as a point of fixation]. . . . I remember Dr. Déjardin and I looking at one another during surgery and saying, ‘The 4,’ at the same time. We felt it would give Otis the best chance for a smooth recovery and return to function.”

After the operation, Otis recovered uneventfully. In fact, Marturello has a video of him walking around the day after surgery. Otis was allowed to return to normal activity at three weeks following surgery. Otis’s owners said, “Today, Otis is as good as new; you would never know he had been injured.”

Photo credits: The ElleVet Project; Alesia D/iStock via Getty Images; Andrii Borodai/iStock via Getty Images; Photo courtesy of Danielle Martuello; 

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