Cats With Gum Disease Sought for Study

A clinical trial using their stem cells will evaluate treatment for gingivostomatitis.


Cornell is seeking cats with chronic, non-responsive gingivostomatitis for a clinical trial using stem cells. The disease causes severe, painful inflammation affecting the gums and mucosa in the mouth. The cause remains unknown.

The Dentistry and Oral Surgery Service at Cornell University Hospital for Animals will use the cats’ own stem cells in the research. Current treatments are less than ideal, unpredictable and associated with possible complications. In prior studies of more than 20 cats, IV administration of a cat’s own stem cells was shown to be safe and, in most cases, substantially improved or completely resolved the stomatitis.

Painful to Eat

A common sign of affected cats is hissing and running off in anticipation of discomfort when they approach their food bowls. “Cats with gingivostomatitis may have bad breath, excessive salivation and difficulty swallowing,” says Santiago Peralta, DVM, AVDC, Assistant Professor of Dentistry and Oral Surgery, at Cornell. “Additionally, some cats will develop an unkempt coat due to the lack of grooming that results from oral pain. An oral examination usually reveals typical patterns of oral mucosal inflammation and ulceration. Most cats will simultaneously have other dental disease, including periodontal disease and tooth resorption.”

The diagnosis is usually made based on history, oral examination, X-ray findings under general anesthesia and a biopsy of the oral mucosa, says Dr, Peralta, who is leading the clinical study. “The conventional treatment after conservative measures have been exhausted is full or near-full mouth dental extractions. Unfortunately, many cats do not respond despite the aggressive surgical intervention.”

Cats eligible for Cornell’s clinical trial are those who have had full-mouth dental extractions and haven’t responded to treatment for at least six months. They cannot have received antibiotics or immunosuppressive medications such as steroids and cyclosporine for the two weeks prior to enrollment in the study.

A minimum of five visits to Cornell will be required, and veterinarians and owners will not know if a patient receives his or her own stem cells or a placebo. If a cat receives the placebo, the owner will have the opportunity at the end of treatment to have the stem cell injections. A grant will cover the cost of treatment. More information is available at the Cornell Clinical Trials website or from the clinical research coordinator at 607-253-3060 or