A Grand Forks company that uses goose antibodies to prevent and treat disease is close to marketing its first product, a treatment for parvovirus in dogs. I reported in 2012 on the work Avianax is doing to develop a treatment for West Nile and other diseases. Because animal treatments require much less stringent testing than human testing, that’s the focus of their first goose antibody product.
Company COO Richard Glynn says bringing animal treatments to market will help fund trials on human vaccines and treatments. Those trials can take three to five years.
The first parvovirus treatment was used on puppies rescued from a puppy mill a few months ago, and an adult dog. Glynn says without the treatment they would have been euthanized.
There is currently no drug treatment for parvovirus, a highly contagious disease according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. While there is an effective vaccine, AVMA says parvovirus primarily infects puppies younger than four months and dogs that have not been vaccinated.
Darin Meulebroeck, a Grand Forks Veterinarian and Chief Science Officer for Avianax, treated the first dogs with the new antibody. Meulebroeck says the typical treatment for Parvovirus requires about a week in an animal hospital and even with that treatment about 60 percent of dogs die.
The dogs he’s treated with the goose antibody recovered in 24 hours. Two dogs died despite the treatment, but Meulebroeck says their treatment was delayed by a late diagnosis. He says he’s cautiously optimistic the treatment could save hundreds of thousands of dogs each year.
The company now has a permit from the USDA to ship the treatment to veterinarians who will use it in a field trial.
Meulebroeck says veterinarians in Bemidji and Walker, Minnesota and Grand Forks and Dickinson, North Dakota are using the treatment and he expects to enroll more veterinarians in the field trial. Avianax is also hiring a company to conduct a controlled study to provide more data.
Glynn says once the company has data on successful treatment of at least 100 dogs, they expect to get a conditional permit to market the product. Work is underway to set up a manufacturing facility in Grand Forks.
As for treatment for human diseases?
Glynn says a treatment for Andes virus, one of several strains of Hantavirus, is ready for the first of three rounds of human trials required to prove a product is safe and works. That project has funding from the Army Medical Research Institute.