Colorado Startup VetDC Targets Biotech Breakthroughs for Pets
A Colorado State University spinoff is tackling a pet project: Developing biotech innovations for dogs and cats.
VetDC Inc., based in Fort Collins, Colo., is working with pet owners as well as veterinarians at the university’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital to produce and market veterinary products. VetDC was formed by CSU Ventures, a business development arm of the Colorado State University Research Foundation.
The startup will focus primarily on anti-cancer initiatives but also will take aim at unmet veterinary needs related to eye care, infectious diseases and other ailments.
Steven Roy, president and CEO of VetDC, said biotech companies rarely work on advancements that might benefit animals. Roy is a former executive at biotech company Amgen Inc., based in Thousand Oaks, Calif.
“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 noted that Americans spend more than $21 billion a year on veterinary care. Americans own about 75 million pet dogs and 82 million pet cats.
In March, VetDC signed a deal with biopharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences Inc. to develop and commercialize a drug that attacks lymphoma cancer cells in dogs. Lymphoma is the No. 1 cancer among American dogs; cancer is a leading cause of death for dogs.
Although pets with lymphoma typically are treated with human chemotherapy drugs, nearly all animals that are treated relapse, leaving them with few viable medical options. VetDC said its drug may offer an alternative for treatment of lymphoma in pets.
The exclusive North American licensing agreement with Foster City, Calif.-based Gilead “is a major milestone in our ongoing efforts to license innovative products and intellectual properties that will advance veterinary medicine,” Roy said.
VetDC also is:
• Evaluating a glaucoma-fighting device to help prevent blindness in pets. Glaucoma is common in dogs and cats.
• Developing a test that quickly identifies drug-resistant bacterial strains in animals with infections. Drug-resistant bacterial infections are becoming more common in pets, according to VetDC.
In March, Roy won a $10,000 prize in the startup category of the Monfort College of Business Entrepreneurial Challenge at the University of Northern Colorado. He grabbed the prize for the VetDC concept.
“We had been trying to build a business for about a year, but hadn’t put together a business plan yet,” Roy said. “This competition forced me to sit down and actually get it done.”