LSU School of Veterinary Medicine professor receives research grant for $100,000
Jon M. Fletcher, DVM (LSU 2005), DACVIM (SAIM), assistant professor in Veterinary Clinical Sciences, recently received research funding for his work exploring the ability of a novel dietary supplement to treat and prevent obesity in cats. This research grant is funded by the Morris Animal Foundation and is in collaboration with Donald Ingram, PhD, adjunct professor at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center. This $100,000 grant period is for two years, beginning in January 2016.
Research has shown that approximately 35 to 50 percent of cats are either overweight or obese, predisposing these animals to a number of medical conditions, including diabetes, liver disease and osteoarthritis. Current treatment strategies for obese pets are limited to caloric restriction and exercise. Difficulty implementing these weight loss programs in cats leads to a high failure rate and owner frustration.
Researchers plan to evaluate the ability a novel nutraceutical, specifically an extract from unripe avocados, to treat and prevent obesity in cats without the need for restricting feeding. The avocado extract contains a unique sugar that inhibits the ability of cells to metabolize glucose. The first study will evaluate the effectiveness of an avocado extract dietary supplement in obese cats, while the second study will evaluate the ability of a diet formulated with avocado extract to prevent obesity in lean cats.
Obesity is a very significant and growing problem in the veterinary community. If effective, this novel treatment and preventive strategy could have a huge impact on the pet cat population, as well as other veterinary species.
Dr. Fletcher says that he hopes this treatment may also prove to have beneficial effects in dogs, as well as people.
The Morris Animal Foundation is a nonprofit organization that invests in science to advance animal health. The Foundation is a global leader in funding scientific studies for companion animals, horses and wildlife.