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Biotech in NZ on cusp of saving sick pets

Biotech in NZ on cusp of saving sick pets

October 7, 2019

NZ biotech companies and organisations are exploring cutting-edge research to help treat people, but that will soon be swiftly replicated for dogs, cats and other pets.

BiotechNZ executive director Dr Zahra Champion says society cannot put a price tag on the unconditional love owners have for their pets. She says global and national research is providing increasing solutions to serious medical issues for pets.

“Global reports show constant breakthroughs for pets in providing trail-blazing treatment for various conditions including cancer and muscular dystrophy. Biotech drugs for pets is becoming a multi-billion-dollar boost to the veterinary medicines market.

Pet owners want the same pioneering biotechnology as any human patient to treat their pets or, in many instances, fur child,” she says.

“Biotech companies are not required to conduct preclinical animal studies for a drug candidate, but instead are able to go directly into testing involving the species of companion animal for which the therapeutic is being developed.

“This not only significantly speeds up development time, but also reduces the investment needed to get a new drug to the market. “

Sector leader Zoetis and other global biotech companies say animal drug development is faster, less expensive and more predictable than drugs for people.

New Zealand is a nation of animal lovers. The more than 4.6 million Kiwi companion animals outnumber people, Dr Champion says.

“A total of 64 percent of New Zealand households are home to at least one companion animal, more than almost anywhere else in the world. But we strive to give them the best things we can, veterinary care, new medicines, new technology.

“There is a growing number of people who consider their pets to be members of the family and, as such, they are willing to spend significant amounts of money on the care and welfare of their furry friends.”

“Biotech, which produces medicines from living cells, has changed the whole drug industry with breakthrough medicines. The cost of biotech drugs has fallen, making biotech for pets financially affordable.

“But there is still an unmet need in the pet health sector and a huge opportunity for the biotech sector to work towards better medicines, vaccines and treatments for pets.

“New Zealand can play a bigger role and Kiwi companies are coming to the forefront. Inventus is running clinical trial for pets and ezyVet is producing software for pets.

“Otago University is creating new green anti-microbial products just for animals. Ferrier Research Institute researchers have used novel technology to produce a new flea treatment for domestic pets and Argenta is growing base of projects for pets.

“We are totally right up there in this sector. BiotechNZ is keen to advise government and key agencies about how New Zealand can grow its global status in this area,” Dr Champion says.

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