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Animal Health: Vetbiobank and Virbac sign a strategic partnership agreement

Animal Health: Vetbiobank and Virbac sign a strategic partnership agreement

The Lyon-based biotech company will develop a new therapy based on neonatal stem cells to treat a chronic inflammatory animal disease, in partnership with Virbac, the 6th largest veterinary group worldwide.

3 Feb 2023

Founded in Lyon in 2011, Vetbiobank is a pharmaceutical and biotech company which develops and produces cell therapy drugs using animal mesenchymal stem cells. The manufacturing process developed by Vetbiobank, which uses neonatal cells present in the tissues generally thrown away after birth, comply with animal well-being and statutory Good Manufacturing Practices.

These neonatal stem cells have a particularly high anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory potential, compared with that of the cells that can be obtained from other adult animal tissues. They are therefore indicated for treating numerous chronic inflammatory diseases, in both animals and humans, even if at the moment Vetbiobank is focusing its efforts on animals, in particular osteoarthritis in dogs.

After the clinical successes obtained with competition horses suffering from osteoarthritis, that have rediscovered their athletic ability, Vetbiobank was able to attack its target market, namely, canine osteoarthritis, that affects one dog in five. The most advanced product in the pipeline relates to this indication. It is currently in phase III (so-called pivot study in veterinary health). It is taking place in France and Spain and“is advancing at a very fast pace, as half the dogs envisaged for the study have already been recruited,” said Nadia Plantier, COO of Vetbiobank. The study is expected to be completed by the end of 2023, for a marketing authorization envisaged for the end of 2024/early 2025.

“This agreement with Virbac to develop our technology for a new indication opens up excellent growth opportunities. The cell therapy developed with an industrial process like that of Vetbiobank, is capable of responding to the new challenge that the increase in the incidence of chronic inflammatory diseases in pets represents for veterinarians and owners,” Stéphane Maddens, CEO of Vetbiobank.

The strategic partnership agreement signed between Vetbiobank and Virbac involves financial support and the availability of Virbac’s internal resources for the different phases of the clinical study. Virbac will be responsible, over time, for promoting and distributing this therapeutic innovation via its commercial network. The first market targeted will be Europe, with a view to expanding to the USA and the rest of the world.

Virbac, as 6th largest veterinary group worldwide, based in Carros, in the south-east of France, has a range of products and services that covers most pathologies affecting around fifty animal species.

“Currently, the treatments for chronic inflammatory diseases, for both animals and humans, do not treat the pathologies but only the symptoms and often have side effects. Our cell biotherapy products are able to slow down the progression of these chronic diseases. With a single administration and with no serious side effects, the animals can have their symptoms relieved for several months and recover their quality of life. We are thus reacting to an unsatisfied medical need,” said Nadia Plantier, COO at Vetbiobank.

The product targeted by this partnership concerns a new indication among the chronic inflammatory animal diseases for which Vetbiobank has already an initial proof of concept. This new treatment could be put on the market in 2026. “We are delighted with this partnership as it represents a significant lever for the development of the company!” said Nadia Plantier. “The Vetbiobank business model is constructed on such partnerships, which give access to the mass market of pets. They show the confidence that the veterinary pharmaceutical industry has in our technology and our know-how. Vetbiobank continues to seek out partners for existing or future markets and is opening up its capital to investors keen to support an innovative pharmaceutical company in the animal health sector.”

Thus, by the end of 2023, as soon as the phase III results are published in respect of canine osteoarthritis, Vetbiobank is expected to announce a fundraising round of €5 million in order to pursue its industrial development and launch two new cell drugs on the market.

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