The ABCD and Merial Young Scientist Award 2011 was presented to Isabelle Dietrich from the University of Glasgow for her work on a potential gene therapy for cats infected with the feline immunodeficiency virus.
The ABCD and Merial Young Scientist Award 2011 was presented to Isabelle Dietrich, a PhD student at the Centre for Virus Research of the University of Glasgow.
The award ceremony was held at the congress of the International Society of Feline Medicine (ISFM) in Vienna on June 25.
Isabelle Dietrich received the award for her work on a potential gene therapy for cats infected with the feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), based on restriction of the virus with a synthetic feline TRIM5-CypA fusion protein.
She said: “In our study, we confirmed that such a protein was highly efficient at preventing FIV infection in vitro”.
A TRIM-Cyp-based gene therapy approach for FIV-infected cats “would offer an effective antiviral defense strategy with a very low potential for toxicity and the emergence of resistant viral variants, and would contribute significantly to animal welfare,” she explained.
The award was presented by Prof Marian Horzinek, founding chairman of the European Advisory Board on Cat Diseases (ABCD), who said: “Isabelle Dietrich has contributed to the knowledge of feline infectious diseases by a series of studies of high quality and originality. Her research into the intracellular defense mechanism offers a novel insight into the potential control of an often devastating disease.”
He said Isabelle had been selected “with flying colours” from a pool of “very good candidates”.
Jean-Christophe Thibault, Merial’s technical director for biologicals (Europe, Middle East and Africa) said Isabelle’s work was also “of major importance” in the field of human viral diseases like AIDS.