Zoetis leads push for 'One Health' approach to fighting human and animal diseases

Some diseases, like Ebola, are transmitted to humans from animals, while others are not passed between species but are nevertheless common to both people and animals, like diabetes, osteoarthritis and cancer. Now Zoetis ($ZTS) is calling for greater collaboration between veterinarians, physicians and scientists to speed innovations to market that could lead to better preventative measures and cures for all species facing these health threats.

Zoetis promoted this collaborative approach--commonly called One Health--during the 3rd International One Health Congress in Amsterdam earlier this week. At the event, the company expressed its concern that more than 60% of infectious human diseases originated in wild animals and 75% of emerging human illnesses can be passed from animals to people. These numbers could skyrocket because of the rapidly growing popularity of global travel, the increasingly close association between people and animals and other trends, the company argued.

Research collaborations between experts in animal and human health will make the process of combating shared diseases more efficient, said Michelle Haven, a veterinarian and senior vice president of corporate development, alliances and solutions at Zoetis. "We firmly believe it could lead to the faster development of sophisticated health tools and technologies that will not only better protect against infectious diseases, but also help tackle some of the major chronic disease challenges of the 21st century, such as cardiovascular disease and osteoarthritis," Haven said in a press release recounting the symposium. "A One Health approach may also provide added value to new biotech and start-up companies that could potentially commercialize their inventions earlier in the veterinary market."

In promoting One Health at this week's symposium, Zoetis was joined by several international organizations, including the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA), the International Federation for Animal Health Europe and GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK).

"Human, animal and environmental health face many common or related challenges," said Magda Chlebus, director of science policy at EFPIA, in the release. "Success in addressing these will, more than ever, rely on our ability to integrate know-how, sciences and technologies from many sectors and companies."

Several recent advances in animal health have the potential to help people, too. Earlier this month, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine published a study demonstrating that an experimental compound greatly alleviates the symptoms of a rare neurological disease called Niemann-Pick type C in cats who naturally develop the condition. A trial in children with the same disease is now underway.

And last month, researchers at Virginia Tech won a research grant from the National Cancer Institute to develop an experimental treatment called nonthermal irreversible electroporation for treating people with glioblastoma. The inventors of the technology had previously demonstrated its effectiveness in a 12-year-old dog with the same type of brain cancer.

Zoetis has embarked on several One Health initiatives. For example, the company is collaborating with two organizations in Australia to develop a vaccine against Hendra virus, a zoonotic disease that affects horses and people.

- here's Zoetis' press release
- read more at PMLive