Cats used in an attempt to model human retinal degeneration

Aplin FP, Luu CD, Vessey KA, Guymer RH, Shepherd RK, & Fletcher, EL. ‘ATP-induced photoreceptor death in a feline model of retinal degeneration’. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2014; 55: 8319–8329.

The Experiment

The purpose of this experiment was to develop a cat model of retinal degeneration induced by injection into the eye of adenosine triphosphate (ATP).   Nineteen normally sighted adult cats received injections of ATP at the retina. Four were killed 30 hours after injection and retinal sections examined. In the remaining 15 cats, structural and functional changes were observed over a 3 month period using electroretinography (ERG) where recordings were made using corneal electrodes placed onto the eye.

Cost-Benefit Analysis

Over a million dollars was provided for this research by way of taxpayer funded grants including the Australian Research Council and the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC grants APP1021042 – $457,785; APP1061419 – $659,890). The Centre for Eye Research Australia also receives operational infrastructure support from the Victorian Government and is supported by NHMRC Centre for Clinical Research Excellence Award.

Despite the huge amount of funding requested by the researchers for this project, at the conclusion of the experiment, they state that an ATP-induced model of feline degeneration has several limitations.

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