Factbox: Animal health sector aims to emulate Zoetis biotech leap

FILE PHOTO: Moose, a six-year-old English Bulldog with B-cell lymphoma, receives trial medical treatment at the Tufts Veterinary Medical School by vet technicians Stephanie Pollen (L) and Michele Willett in North Grafton, Massachusetts, U.S., September 13, 2019. REUTERS/Katherine Taylor

(Reuters) - A commercial breakthrough in the field of complex therapeutic proteins for dogs by sector leader Zoetis ZTS.N has roused rivals to action in a hunt for biotechnology medicines to treat pets.

Previously reserved for humans, biotech drugs made from genetically engineered living cells are now seen as ripe for the pet health market. The following are some of the recent deals, launches and development projects in the space:

- British animal health company Dechra Pharmaceuticals Inc DPH.L agreed to a deal in August to utilize development work by U.S. insulin specialist Akston Biosciences for a once weekly shot for diabetic dogs to replace daily injections, with a view to expanding the collaboration to cats. Dechra has said long-acting insulin, which is typically produced from genetically modified bacteria, should become its biggest product.

- U.S. animal health company Kindred Biosciences Inc KIN.O, which repurposed a human antidepressant to stimulate appetite in underweight cats, has several genetically engineered biologic drugs under development, targeting diseases such as dermatitis in dogs and anemia in cats.

- German early-stage biotech research firm Adivo in April signed a global collaboration deal here with Bayer's BAYGn.DE animal health unit a little over a year after Adivo was spun out of human biotech firm Morphosys MORG.DE with a mission to develop antibodies for dogs.

- Privately-held German drugmaker Boehringer Ingelheim, the global No. 2 in animal health, in April launched here the first stem cell-based veterinary medicine to treat lameness in horses caused by inflamed joints, a common worry for both recreational and competitive riders.

- Industry leader Zoetis Inc ZTS.N, which has a successful anti-itch biotech drug for dogs on the market, said here in August it was seeking approval for more antibodies, targeting osteoarthritic pain in cats with plans for a 2021 market launch, drawing on its 2017 acquisition of Nexvet Biopharma. A similar product for dogs is also in the pipeline.

- In June of 2018, Zoetis signed a deal here with human biotech firm Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc REGN.O to adopt its antibody technology for animals, targeting inflammatory disease and cancer.

Reporting by Ludwig Burger; Edited by Bill Berkrot