Helping cats live all nine lives

In the early 1970s, the Feline Leukemia Virus was recognized as the most important fatal disease affecting cats. During that same time at Ohio State, the Retrovirus Research Program was organizing in the College of Veterinary Medicine with funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Special Cancer Virus Research Program, which was part of a "war against cancer."  Researchers in the newly-formed program were the first to develop the patented method for the prototype vaccine that was licensed to Zoetis (formally Pfizer Animal Health). Leukocell®, which became commercially available in 1985, has prevented the infection and death of millions of cats worldwide and resulted in royalties of more than $14 million for The Ohio State University. The Retrovirus Research Program grew to become a world-renowned interdisciplinary program that was officially recognized as a university academic Center of Excellence in 1989. The Center for Retrovirus Research (CRR) now includes more than 14 research groups from across Ohio State, as well as Nationwide Children’s Hospital and Wright State University. Insights gained by studying retroviruses have established fundamental understanding of cell biology. CRR investigators have worked as a program project team to earn over $20 million from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to study retrovirus models of cancer.