Japan’s Cat Lovers Donate $2 Million to Kidney Research
People in Japan who want their feline friends to live longer have donated nearly $2 million to the search for a cure. Cats may have nine lives, but their time on Earth is often cut short by kidney problems – so people in Japan who want their feline friends to live longer have donated nearly $2 million to the search for a cure.
Scientists at the University of Tokyo lost corporate financing for a study on preventing kidney illness in cats as the coronavirus outbreak devastated the economy last year.
However, after a story about the researchers’ distress by news agency Jiji Press went viral, hundreds of Japanese cat lovers mobilized online to give to the researchers.
“Last December, I lost my beloved cat to kidney disease… One individual put in a message beside her $20 payment, “I hope this research will continue and help many animals live without this cancer.”
“I recently got a kitten,” stated another contributor, who gave $90. I’m making a gift in the hopes of getting it to this cat in time.”
Because of a hereditary incapacity to activate a critical protein found by the Tokyo researchers, domesticated cats and their larger wild cousins are extremely prone to renal disorders.
The protein AIM aids in the removal of dead cells and other waste from the body, reducing clogging of the kidneys.
Toru Miyazaki, an immunology professor, and his team are researching on techniques to generate the protein in a consistent quantity and quality.
They seek to develop a new treatment that might double the life expectancy of cats, which is currently around 15 years.
Miyazaki told the AFP-affiliated AFPBB News, “I hope that eventually vets will administer (cats) jabs every year like immunizations.”
“It would be beneficial to give them one or two doses of AIM every year,” he said.
After the article was published in July, the team received around 3,000 unsolicited donations.
In just a few days, it had risen to 10,000, surpassing the entire number of gifts the university generally receives in a year.
The total sum donated had risen to 207 million yen ($1.9 million) by mid-September.
“It was the first time I realized how much my research was anticipated,” Miyazaki added.
In 2016, his team released research on how AIM – short for apoptotic inhibitor of macrophage – works in the body in the journal Nature Medicine.
They’re also working on a cat diet that has a chemical that could help activate the inactive AIM in feline blood.