Zoetis is on the prowl for R&D collaborations: Report

Dog and person
Zoetis is looking for R&D partnerships around diseases that people and animals share.

Zoetis ($ZTS) has formed nearly 100 research partnerships with companies and academic institutions around the world, but the company is far from finished looking for partners to help bring innovations to the animal health market. Leading the effort is Scott Brown, Zoetis’ vice president of external innovation and veterinary medicine research and development, who works out of the company’s Kalamazoo, MI, R&D headquarters.

The company’s R&D interests range from finding new vaccine adjuvants to developing new drug-delivery technologies to devising bioinformatics programs that can be used for precision veterinary medicine, Brown said in an interview with Animal Pharm. Among the partners that have struck up R&D pacts with Zoetis are Oregon-based drug developer Bend Research and the Easter Bush research campus in Edinburgh, Scotland. The types of partnerships Zoetis seeks out have evolved along with the company’s research focus and technology advances, Brown said.

Zoetis is particularly interested in forming research alliances around One Health, the movement based on the idea of merging veterinary and human health research to fight diseases that span species. "Collaboration between human and animal health researchers brings with it the potential to advance the understanding of mutually relevant diseases,” Brown told Animal Pharm. “It could also help expand the translational approach to medicine."

Brown pointed out that companion animals get many of the same diseases people do, including cancer, heart disease and chronic kidney disease. And humans and animals share the risks posed by several emerging viruses, he said. Studying diseases in mammals such as dogs could help Zoetis and other companies identify promising drug candidates more efficiently, he added.

Zoetis has long been a proponent of One Health. It promoted the collaborative research approach last year at the 3rd International One Health Congress in Amsterdam. And its research partnerships included teaming up with two Australian organizations to develop a vaccine against Hendra disease, which affects both horses and people.

Brown said Zoetis has suffered a few stumbles in its research collaborations and is working to improve the process by which it seeks out and assesses potential partners. “One of the responsibilities of my group is to discern whether that alignment exists among the potential partners. The natural tension between academic freedom to explore and the industry drive to deliver product value exists,” Brown told Animal Pharm. “The goal is to find those collaborations where the two interests pull in a common direction."

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