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The oral disease in cats is analogous to the disease found in humans; both are T-cell immune mediated illnesses.
“I was really excited to hear about their work because the cat disease behaved very similarly to what I saw in my human patients with oral lichen planus,” Fazel said.
“Having this opportunity to translate what we’re learning in veterinary medicine to human medicine and working together to bring therapies discovered in the cat model to chronic oral inflammatory diseases in humans is exciting and has great potential.” Nicholau uses oral xylocaine to deal with the pain of oral lichen planus and help her eat, but the numbing factor means she can’t taste her food.
The UC Davis trial included cats whose disease was not resolved by tooth extraction.
“We’re the first researchers to come up with this patent-pending technique for any mammals, including humans,” Arzi said.
In fact, the researchers involved formed a company, Innovo STEM, in collaboration with the UC Davis Venture Catalyst Program to explore the potential of this technique.
Before the surgery, Nicholau had been receiving gamma globulin infusions for various immune system disorders.
Afterwards, her doctor was reluctant to continue the therapy due to side effects. Not only is the disease painful, it also places patients at greater risk for developing oral squamous cell carcinoma (independent of other risk factors such as smoking and alcohol consumption).