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September 15, 2011 (Vol. 31, No. 16)

Repurposing Biotechnology Products for Pet Care

Firm Finds New Uses for Drugs, Diagnostics, and Devices in Companion Animals

  • Click Image To Enlarge +
    Dog with non-Hodgkin lymphoma pre- and six days post- VDC-1101 treatment. Enlarged lymph nodes are clearly visible prior to treatment.

    Companies spend billions of dollars annually on the development of human drugs, devices, and diagnostics. Yet many promising products fail to reach the marketplace and their value is never realized. VetDC was started in Fort Collins, CO, last year to repurpose discarded and shelved technologies for veterinary use. The company in-licenses emerging, underexploited technologies from human biotechnology companies, then develops and commercializes them for dogs, cats, and other companion animals.

    VetDC’s primary focus is cancer, and its first acquisition in March this year was GS-9219, a molecule discovered by scientists at Gilead Sciences. VetDC holds an exclusive North American license to GS-9219 for veterinary use. Now known as VDC-1101, the antiproliferative agent preferentially targets and kills lymphoid cells.

    VDC-1101 is a prodrug of the nucleotide analog PMEG that selectively accumulates in malignant lymphoid cells where it converts to an active form that inhibits DNA synthesis and induces apoptosis. In 38 dogs with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, 79% showed tumor regression, as reported in the May 15, 2009, issue of Clinical Cancer Research. To date, about 70 client-owned dogs with cancer have been treated with VDC-1101.

    Cancer is a leading cause of death in dogs, and lymphoma is one of the most common canine and feline cancers. Dogs with lymphoma are typically treated with human chemotherapy drugs, but typically more than 90% will relapse within 5 to 10 months. Better alternatives are needed.

    “There are no approved drugs for canine lymphoma today, and VDC-1101 has the opportunity to be the first FDA-approved product specifically for canine lymphoma,” says Steven Roy, president and CEO at VetDC. The company plans to test VDC-1101 in cats, too.

  • Devices and Diagnostics

    Click Image To Enlarge +
    Whole-body FLT-PET/CT serial imaging of a dog with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Comparison between the scan before therapy (A) and three weeks after the final dose of VDC-1101 (B) shows a significant antiproliferative response in affected lymph nodes following treatment.

    VetDC is also testing a surgical implant to treat glaucoma in dogs and cats. The novel drainage device is implanted into the outer layer of the eye to relieve pressure that causes pain, discomfort, and blindness. Aqueous Biomedical developed the implant device based on a patented biomaterial.

    A third product in VetDC’s pipeline is a point-of-care detection kit for drug-resistant strains of bacteria that plague human hospitals. Drug-resistant bacterial infections are increasingly common in pets and veterinary clinics, too. The technology came from MicroPhage and uses bacteriophage amplification to identify drug-resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus.