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Zoetis Inks Deal for Antibiotic Alternative in Animals

Pig close-up

(Mutinka, Pixabay)

19 January 2016. The veterinary medicines company Zoetis is gaining exclusive rights to evaluate and possibly license an alternative to antibiotics in farm animals. While some financial details of the agreement with Anatara Lifesciences in Brisbane, Australia were disclosed, dollar amounts were not revealed.

Antibiotics are used to treat disease in livestock and reduce food-borne pathogens, but some producers of meat and poultry also add antibiotics to feed and water to encourage weight gain. More antibiotics fed to farm animals, however, also contribute to increased occurrence of antibiotic resistant bacteria. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, for example, began a voluntary plan with industry in December 2013 to phase out use of some antibiotics in food production.

Anatara Lifesciences is a developer of drugs for gastrointestinal disorders in animals, which today are usually antibiotics to treat bacterial infections causing diarrhea, also known as scour. Anatara’s solution, marketed under the name Detach, focuses on the mechanism of microbes to attach to the small intestine causing distress to the animals, rather than trying to kill the microbe itself.

Detach is derived from enzymes in pineapples known as bromelains, which are believed to prevent the attachment of bacteria or virus to intestines, and have anti-inflammatory properties. The company says Detach not only prevents microbes from attaching to intestines, it also blocks pathways used by toxins that stimulate secretion of fluids. And because Detach does not target the microbe itself, it does not contribute to the growing problem of antibiotic resistance.

The agreement gives Zoetis, in Florham Park, New Jersey, exclusive rights to evaluate Detach’s potential with a number of livestock species for a specified period. The companies plan what they call “an aggressive research program” to determine the utility of Detach, with an option to license the technology. In return, Anatara receives initial and subsequent cash periods during this period.

Zoetis was formed in February 2013, as a spin-off from the pharmaceutical company Pfizer, concentrating on animal health. As reported in Science & Enterprise, Zoetis issued its initial public offering of stock soon after its formation, raising $2.2 billion.

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