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Zoetis targets immunotherapies as antibiotic alternatives

Zoetis establishes research lab at Colorado State University to explore immunotherapies for livestock.

Zoetis announced July 29 that it has signed an agreement with Colorado State University (CSU) to establish a research lab at the university that will explore the livestock immune system and target new immunotherapies, thus paving the way for new alternatives to antibiotics in food-producing animals.

The new 3,000 sq. ft. Zoetis Incubator Research Lab will operate at the Research Innovation Center on CSU's Foothills Campus in Ft. Collins, Colo., starting in early 2020, Zoetis said. In this research and development (R&D) collaboration, Zoetis scientists will be co-located with CSU’s highly skilled scientists, core laboratories, research programs and services to seed innovations for livestock animal health.

While the Zoetis Incubator Research Lab will reside within CSU’s Research Innovation Center, it will be part of the company’s global R&D organization. As a result, Zoetis said it may access a greater understanding of the livestock immune system, generating new candidates for further R&D.

The initial focus of the Incubator Research Lab will be biotherapeutics for cattle, which could yield broader implications for pigs and poultry, Zoetis added.

"Our agreement with Zoetis represents the beginning of an era of collaboration, cooperation and innovation between public and private research leaders, all in the interest of improving animal health," said Ray Goodrich, executive director of the Infectious Disease Research Center and a professor in the CSU department of microbiology, immunology and pathology.

With a limited number of alternatives today for treating life-threatening bacterial infections in animals, Zoetis said it supports the responsible use of antibiotic medicines in animals and in people while ensuring that veterinarians and livestock producers have new and enhanced solutions to better predict, prevent, detect and treat disease in the animals under their care.

These include new classes of antibiotics for veterinary use only and novel, non-antibiotic anti-infective treatments like those being pursued through the Zoetis Incubator Research Lab, the company added.

As part of the new lab, Zoetis expects to hire up to 20 livestock research scientists, immunologists and cell biologists in Ft. Collins beginning this fall.

"Zoetis is committed to continuous innovation and going where the science is. CSU is at the forefront of infectious disease innovation and animal health research in a vibrant biotech community, making it the ideal environment for our Incubator Research Lab," said Chad Ray, senior director of global therapeutics research for Zoetis.

"The success of our efforts will have the potential to translate into products and services that may greatly improve the health and well-being of farm animals and our agricultural communities," Goodrich said.

The Research Innovation Center at CSU is a life science company accelerator and is home to several start-up companies with roots at the university, including SiVEC Biotechnologies LLC, which is developing antiviral applications for the rapid treatment and prevention of avian influenza.

Zoetis is a leading animal health company that discovers, develops, manufactures and commercializes medicines, vaccines and diagnostic products, which are complemented by biodevices, genetic tests and a range of services.

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