The Aussie Company That’s Curing Dogs with Cancer

If you didn’t know chemotherapy for dogs was a thing, well, now you do.

Source: Pet Place
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There aren’t many stats regarding what Aussies spend on dog chemo, specifically. A recent report from IBISWorld says the veterinary services in Australia brought in about $3 billion worth of revenue over the past year. IBISWorld says that between 2011 and 2016, the industry will have grown by 2.7%.

In the US, a 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll found that 17% of dog owners would be willing to pay more than $10,000 for treatment that their dog needed in order to live. And dog owners would spend more than cat owners for life saving treatment.

dog chemo spending
Source: CBS News
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If Australians think the same way about their pets — and anecdotal evidence suggests they do — then that’s a lot of dogs being put through life-saving treatment rather than being put down. In Australia, diagnostics, chemo and recovery for a dog with cancer can cost $10,000–20,000 depending on the vet. A quick comparison of three major pet insurance providers shows that, at the top level of cover, insurers will pay out up to $20,000 for cancer treatment, plus more for ‘alternative treatment’, such as post-chemo dog massage. And IBISWorld says that ‘Further increases in pet insurance levels and higher pricing over the next five years are expected to drive industry revenue growth through 2020-21.’

From a business point of view, it actually makes a lot of sense to develop chemotherapy solutions for dogs. Unlike human cancer treatments, the cost of dog cancer treatments isn’t capped by law. Individual vets simply have to make sure that the pet owner understands the risks, prognosis and total cost of their pet’s treatment. So veterinary medicine companies can charge whatever dog owners are willing to pay.

The Australian company that’s hard at work on a better dog chemo option

PharmAust Limited [ASX:PAA] is an Australian pharmaceutical research company. They say their ‘principal activitiesare [developing our] own drug discovery intellectual property, namely three platforms for the treatment of different types of cancers in humans and animals.’

At the moment, PharmAust’s wholly owned subsidiary Pitney Pharmaceuticals is testing the possible scope and applications of an active substance they’ve developed called PPL-1. It’s an anthelminthic. Anthelminthic drugs are usually used to help expel worms and parasites from the body by neutralising them without hurting the host (patient). But as Pitney and some other researchers are discovering, anthelminthic drugs can also stop cancer cells from proliferating.

Pitney says that they have ‘entered into a Collaborative Research and Option Agreement with a leading global animal health company, [giving us the] intellectual property and results, an option to licence granted by Pitney over its intellectual property ownership, and other standard commercial terms associated with agreements of this type for the uses in veterinary oncology.’

Today, they announced some very exciting new test results. Two dogs with advanced progressive cancers and little hope for treatment have successfully been treated with a combination of PPL-1 and Carboplatin, a common chemo drug for both humans and animals.

Importantly, the dogs didn’t suffer any adverse side effects. Treatment side effects are a major ethical issue for both pet owners and vets. Because the animal doesn’t understand what it’s going through or why, side effects can be extremely distressing. The animal’s experience is a major consideration when the vet and owner are deciding whether to proceed with treatment.

Dr Roger Aston is the executive chairman of PharmAust. He commented on the results, saying ‘Combining chemotherapy with PPL-1 in a target species with a natural cancer, is an important step for PharmAus. Previous studies in rodentsshowed highly significant synergywithout enhancement of the associated side effects.

The company is planning to continue the study with more dogs. They hope to firmly establish the results that were hinted at today. Dr Aston remarked ‘As PPL-1 is already approved for veterinary use by PharmAust’s partnerwe believe that if successful in this trial, PPL-1 will be able to be approved quickly for the treatment of dog cancers.

That’s happy news indeed for owners of cancer-prone breeds, such as giant breeds and golden retrievers.

Source: Reddit
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Eva Mellors
Contributor, Money Morning

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Money Morning Australia