Dr. Scott A. Brown is vice president of External Innovation, Veterinary Medicine Research & Development at Zoetis. Here he shares his thoughts about the human and animal health connection.
At scientific and industry meetings, I am often asked, “What are the possibilities of a research alliance with Zoetis?” The research community is increasingly interested in the idea of a human biotechnology or pharmaceutical company partnering with an animal health company.
My answer is: The opportunities are limitless— and strategic— because of the link between animal and human health. Consider that:
- 60% of all known pathogens capable of causing infectious disease in humans are zoonotic, which means the disease can be passed between animals and people
- 75% of the disease pathogens that have emerged in recent decades are zoonotic
- Many chronic non-infectious diseases are common to animals and people
- Many biological pathways are conserved across species
The human-animal connection
We know that disease in animals is a key driver of the risk of pandemics in humans. We see this with resistant bacteria and emerging pathogens continuing to cause new epidemics in humans and animals. We must ask ourselves: Are we doing enough to leverage the human-animal connection to combat disease across the board?
The other issue we must explore is that people and animals both suffer from some of the same diseases. These shared diseases include osteoarthritis, renal and cardiovascular diseases (specifically chronic kidney disease, mitral valve degeneration), immune-related diseases such as atopic dermatitis and certain cancers, just to name a few. Each species has it’s own unique microbiome, but many populations of that microbiome are shared across species. Collaboration between human and animal health researchers –what we call a One Health approach – has the potential to advance the understanding of diseases affecting both humans and animals.
The demand is going to only increase. Zoetis is the leading global animal health company in an industry valued at $30 billion with a compound annual growth rate of 5 to 6%. This growth is driven by an expanding world population (an estimated 9 billion people by 2050) and a growing middle class. The growing middle class wants more safe, high-quality animal protein and is more likely to own pets.
Collaboration opens new doors
Research collaboration with Zoetis opens the door to opportunities in areas such as One Health, emerging diseases, food safety and advancements in veterinary standards of care and wellness. Potential benefits for partner companies and organizations in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and agribusiness industries include:
- Apply in vivo models to help accelerate pre-clinical research
- Share compound libraries
- Shorten cycle from research to commercialization by validating molecular targets in veterinary species natural disease
- Open alternate revenue sources from animal health uses of products
- Utilize Zoetis expertise in veterinary biopharmaceuticals (monoclonal antibodies and protein therapeutics) to evaluate targets in non-rodent species
I am especially excited about the possibilities of open innovation collaborations. Zoetis collaborates with companies that have expertise in areas that complement our own research interests and capabilities. Together we can hasten discovery and development and create unique solutions to challenging issues.