VetDC to Transition Human Therapies to Animals

Thursday, March 17, 2011 • CSURF Technology Transfer Office • Todd Headley, Executive Director

Fort Collins – Those of us who have pets or livestock are fortunate to live in an area that is known for its world-renowned veterinary care, expertise and education.

CSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences ranks among the top in the nation, and the VTH’s Animal Cancer Center is the largest companion animal cancer research center in the world.

Some of the latest drug therapies, medical diagnostics and devices that are developed for animals at Colorado State University are often the genesis for further development and application in human medicine.

While transitioning medical advancements from animals to humans is quite common, it’s quite rare for the reverse to happen. In fact, innovations by human-focused biotechnology companies are rarely targeted for veterinary uses.

A new CSU spin-off company, VetDC, has formed to address this very issue.

Steven Roy, president and chief executive officer of VetDC, believes many human therapies have great potential to benefit animals. The company’s mission is to identify and transition underutilized devices, tests and treatments from human medicine into veterinary markets.

VetDC will work with pet owners and veterinarians at the CSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital to develop and market novel veterinary products. The company was formed by CSU Ventures and NeoTREX.

“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,” Roy said.

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. 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 might provide a new alternative for pets suffering from this deadly disease.

Although VetDC’s primary focus is on cancer, it is also exploring unmet medical needs in ophthalmology, infectious disease and other fields. The company is currently evaluating a novel glaucoma device to help prevent blindness in pets and developing a test that quickly identifies drug-resistant bacterial strains in animals with infections.

It is estimated that there are about 75 million pet dogs and 82 million pet cats in the United States and that Americans spend more than $21 billion on veterinary care each year. Even in the midst of an economic downturn, 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.

CSU’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.