Vet Axelle's award-winning research on osteochondrodysplasia in Scottish fold cats

Dedicated vet Axelle Castelli shares her journey into researching osteochondrodysplasia in Scottish fold cats and the promising role of brachytherapy in alleviating the condition's effects, with the support of her mentor Luis.

Axelle’s work was recognised with an award for her poster presentation at the recent ECVS conference.

Discover internships with IVC Evidensia

Can you tell us how you became interested in researching osteochondrodysplasia in Scottish fold cats?

After graduating, I started a rotating internship at the Massilia Veterinary Hospital in Marseille. I began a surgery internship the following year. My interest in osteochondrodysplasia in Scottish fold cats was sparked when a cat with this condition was admitted to the hospital. My mentor, Luis, and I started researching the condition from that point forward.

What motivated you to submit a poster presentation on this topic to the ECVS conference?

My motivation came from the lack of consensus in veterinary literature regarding the management of osteochondrodysplasia in Scottish fold cats. We had achieved great results by treating a case with brachytherapy at Massilia Veterinary Hospital. We believed that sharing our experience could be beneficial to surgeons and referring veterinarians, offering an effective palliative solution for Scottish fold cats suffering from this condition.

Could you provide an overview of the research you presented in your poster at the ECVS conference?

Our poster presented a case report on a Scottish fold cat that we treated with brachytherapy. Osteochondrodysplasia is an inherited disease, causing skeletal deformities in distal limbs and the tail. Affected cats exhibit lameness, reluctance to jump and run, decreased range of motion, or ankylosis due to bone formation around distal joints. There is limited clinical data on osteochondrodysplasia in Scottish fold cats.

Treatments are primarily palliative, aiming to manage pain and improve clinical signs. We found that brachytherapy was an efficient treatment for osteochondrodysplasia, delivered promising long-term results, with improved gait and pain relief within two weeks, allowing the cat to return to normal activity without recurrence for 16 months.

Winning an award at the recent ECVS conference is a significant achievement. How did it feel to be recognised for your work?

It was my first time attending an ECVS congress and my first international presentation, so I'm very grateful for the visibility provided by the ECVS committee and the opportunity Luis gave me to present our work.

Can you briefly explain the significance of brachytherapy in the treatment of osteochondrodysplasia in Scottish fold cats and its potential impact on feline health?

The results we obtained with brachytherapy for our cat closely resemble those reported with radiotherapy. Significant improvement is noted within the first two weeks following treatment, with a return to normal activity in a few weeks.

Transitioning from radiotherapy to brachytherapy resulted in fewer sessions and a lower total dose for brachytherapy, reducing the need for general anaesthesia. However, both radiotherapy and brachytherapy remain palliative treatments that do not halt the progression of the disease.

Collaboration often plays a vital role in research. Could you tell us about any collaborators or mentors who supported your project?

Luis has been a constant source of support throughout the process, not just for this project but throughout my career. I am deeply grateful for his guidance.

Additionally, Benoit Simian-Salvay, the clinical director responsible for brachytherapy at our hospital, played a vital role in converting radiotherapy treatment into brachytherapy. Marlène Finck and Antonin Martenne-Duplan, the head of the medical imaging department and ECVDI resident, were instrumental in overseeing radiographic and CT-scan exams. Many of my coworkers from St Martin Hospital in Annecy, where I was working at the time, helped me with the poster and the presentation.

Can you share any plans or next steps for further research or clinical applications based on your findings?

 We aim to recruit more cases of osteochondrodysplasic Scottish fold cats, with a longer follow-up period to gain a deeper understanding of the long-term effects of this treatment, and to identify the population that could benefit from brachytherapy.

In what ways has IVC Evidensia supported and encouraged your research and professional development?

For this poster presentation, IVC Evidensia provided assistance with travel and conference expenses, which was invaluable. Furthermore, IVC Evidensia offers opportunities to contribute to research by providing financial support and necessary equipment.

I am currently applying for a grant for a research project on elbow dysplasia in dogs in collaboration with the surgical team at Fregis Veterinary Hospital in Paris, where I currently work.

What advice do you have for other IVC Evidensia team members who aspire to conduct research and present their findings at conferences like ECVS?

I would recommend applying for research grants when financial support is required; it can be highly beneficial. And do  not hesitate to connect with other clinic members and collaborate on research projects!

What's next for you in terms of your research and career goals in veterinary medicine?

 I am finalising a research project on tendinous repair and intend to initiate a study on elbow dysplasia in Paris as soon as possible. A case report with Luis is also in the pipeline.

My goal is to commence a surgery residency next summer, with the aim of becoming an ECVS specialist and continuing to contribute to research to enhance the quality of care in surgery for our patients.