Groundbreaking research on feline immunodeficiency diseases may lead to an AIDS vaccine for humans

Published: June 24th, 2008

Category: Spotlights

Janet Yamamoto

Janet Yamamoto

Professor of Pathobiology
College of Veterinary Medicine

The Egyptians worshipped them. T.S. Eliot immortalized them, and Andrew Lloyd Webber sent them to Broadway. Now UF researcher Janet K. Yamamoto is saving their lives with her groundbreaking research on feline immunodeficiency diseases – research that may also lead to an AIDS vaccine for humans.

A pathobiology professor in UF’s College of Veterinary Medicine, Yamamoto is a hero among cat lovers. She not only co-discovered the deadly feline immunodeficiency virus, or FIV, but she also developed the first FIV vaccine.

UF licensed the FIV vaccine, called Fel-O-Vax FIV, to Kansas-based Fort Dodge Animal Health, or FDAH, a division of the New Jersey-based pharmaceutical company Wyeth, in July 2002. Available through licensed practicing veterinarians nationwide, the vaccine is the culmination of 14 years of work by LCIR and FDAH and is based on Yamamoto’s patented technology. UF and UC Davis hold joint patents on the FIV vaccine, and FDAH, with USDA approval, used their research to develop the commercial vaccine.

“I do research only for the good of the cat and quality of life for the cat so that this research will, in the long run, benefit the quality of life for all cats,” she stresses. “Cats contract life-threatening and terminal diseases. I use cat models to research these diseases and ultimately prevent them in cats and improve their quality of life. I research what is real for cats.”

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