University of Missouri researchers have revealed a possible diagnostic test for feline asthma based on Morris Animal Foundation-supported research.

The current testing method necessitates that the patient be anesthetized, which poses a risk to “patients with airway disease, including patients with undiagnosed asthma,” said Carol Reinero, DVM, Ph.D., Dipl. ACVIM, associate professor, director of the Comparative Internal Medicine Laboratory at the UM Veterinary Health Center and the project’s lead researcher.

Cats with signs of asthma breathed into a cooling device to collect exhaled droplets of condensed breath, aka exhaled breath condensate or EBC. When researchers compared biomarkers in the EBC of the cats suspected of having asthma with the EBC of healthy cats, they discovered differences between samples of cats with asthma and those without.

“Having a noninvasive means of diagnosing asthma early in the course of disease will allow proper targeted therapy that can prevent declines in lung function over time”, Dr. Reinero said.

The researchers have developed a panel of biomarkers by which to validate their findings in more tests on more cats. If the initial findings are replicated, the panel could become an early diagnostic tool that veterinarians can use to identify and treat feline asthma before it develops into a serious lung issue or a cat suffers an asthma attack.

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