A Colorado State University spin-off company has been formed to transition underused devices, tests and treatments from human medicine into companion animal veterinary markets.
The company, called VetDC, will work with pet owners and veterinarians at the CSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital to develop and market new veterinary products. The company was formed by CSU Ventures.
“While transitioning medical advancements from animal testing to humans is quite common, innovations by human-focused biotechnology companies are rarely targeted for veterinary uses. Many of these therapies have great potential to benefit animals – and that’s where VetDC comes in,” said Steven Roy, president and chief executive officer. “We think opportunities to improve the quality of life for companion animals – as well as opportunities to continue to learn and advance medical treatments for both humans and animals — are too important to go unexplored. Animals and humans often experience similar diseases and respond to similar treatments.”
There are about 75 million pet dogs and 82 million pet cats in the United States, and Americans spend more than $21 billion on veterinary care. Recent studies show that more than half of all pet owners consider pets to be family members and are willing to spend more on quality health care for them.
The company’s primary focus is on cancer, but it also is exploring unmet medical needs in ophthalmology, infectious disease and other fields.
VetDC recently signed an agreement with Gilead Sciences Inc. to develop and commercialize a new cancer drug that targets and attacks lymphoma cancer cells in dogs. Lymphoma is the most common cancer afflicting dogs in the United States, and cancer is a top cause of death for dogs. While lymphoma is typically treated in companion animals with human chemotherapy drugs, nearly all treated animals ultimately relapse, leaving them with few viable medical options. The VetDC drug may provide a new alternative for pets suffering from this deadly disease.
The company also is evaluating a new glaucoma device to help prevent blindness in pets. Glaucoma, a common disease in humans that causes the fluid pressure inside of an eye to become higher than normal, also is common in dogs and cats and can cause pain and redness – ultimately leading to blindness if not adequately treated.
VetDC also is developing a test that quickly identifies drug-resistant bacterial strains in animals with infections. Drug-resistant bacterial infections are becoming increasingly common in pets. Such testing kits are currently being pursued in the human medical market, but have not been evaluated for use in companion animals.
Colorado State University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital sees more than 20,000 animal patients each year. Companies involved in human and veterinary medicine are partnering with CSU on joint research in an effort to help medicines, tests, devices and vaccines more quickly reach human and animal populations.
More information about VetDC is available at www.vet-dc.com.