Research on Calves Could Find Cure for Respiratory Disease

John DavisCalves, Research

one-health ucdavisResearch on calves could lead to a cure for a respiratory disease. This news release from the University of California-Davis says scientists at the school are finding a treatment for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a serious threat that leads to pneumonia and bronchiolitis, especially in infants and premature children.

Results from the study, published in the August issue of the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, showed that an experimental antiviral compound was effective in blocking the virus from binding with the animal’s cell membranes, thus decreasing the level of infection in the treated calves. The air spaces in the lungs of those treated animals also were less likely to fill with inflammatory cells produced by the infection than were the lungs of untreated animals, the study found.

“This study demonstrated that since bovine RSV in calves is almost identical to the human form of the disease in terms of symptoms, lung pathology and progression of the disease, treatment with an effective antiviral drug can benefit both bovine and human patients,” said Professor Laurel Gershwin, the study’s lead author and a veterinary microbiologist, who has studied bovine RSV for many years.

“It confirms that the cow is a particularly useful research model for studying RSV and demonstrates the importance of approaching medicine with the ‘one health’ perspective, which spans human and veterinary medicine,” she said.

Gilead Sciences funded the study.