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Animal Health

Animals play a key part in all of our lives, from farmyard animals to service animals, companion animals and pets. With over 40% of households in Germany and the UK having at least one pet, it is clear that animal health is a key concern for many people.

Global pet and livestock populations are rising. Our pets are living longer than ever before and there is an increasing desire from owners to provide better healthcare for their animals throughout their lives. For livestock, there is a push towards sustainability, which will require better ongoing health management to reduce losses and improve overall farming efficiency.

However, animal health is not just important for the animals themselves, but also has important implications for humans too. With 60% of infectious disease in humans being zoonotic, it is important to have effective animal treatments available to control these diseases. Research into animal health also has knock-on benefits for human medicine, with initial research in animals often leading to treatments for humans further down the line. Therefore, ultimately good, animal healthcare is good for human health too.

Animal health is a diverse and growing field with a changing landscape. Due to an increased awareness of environmental issues, there is a strong focus on sustainability and social responsibility This is particularly the case for livestock production where there is a consumer push for more sustainable food systems and better conditions for animals, but it is also reflected in the choices of food and bedding pet owners choose for their pets.

The growth of Animal Pharma

Animal pharma has seen a number of key growth areas over the past few years; these range from a revival of interest in the field of animal, in particular canine, oncology and the development and marketing of the first non-human monoclonal antibodies to the use of nanotechnology to address antibiotic resistance.

Diagnostics and animal monitoring are also areas of rapid growth in this sector. Pet owners are keen to monitor their animal’s health over time and detect any issues before they can affect an animal’s quality of life. Similarly, monitoring the health of livestock can be key to maintaining healthy flocks and herds and a range of wearable devices have been released for animals such as cows and pigs, allowing more effective monitoring of these animals and prevention of diseases before they spread or escalate.

The global animal healthcare sector is growing rapidly, with sales increasing by 12% over the past year to 2021 with growth across all geographies. Nevertheless, research into animal healthcare lags behind research into human treatments, with veterinary research less likely to carry out randomised studies, and less likely to report key information and statistical data, thus leading to inaccurate conclusions. The consequence of this is that there are over 5 times fewer drugs on the European Union Register of medical products for veterinary use compared to human use. A lack of funding, lack of experience, inadequate research and IP challenges are key factors in restraining growth of the animal healthcare sector. Companies that can solve these challenges will establish a commanding position in this key field in the future.

Read our Animal Health Blogs

Saved by the cell: taking the animals out of meat

Saved by the cell: taking the animals out of meat

by Eleanor Maciver

Entrepreneur Joshua Errett is aiming to remove animals from the food chain. His first move is to shake up pet food.

Mewburn Ellis team up with Support Dogs to sponsor an Assistance Dog

Mewburn Ellis team up with Support Dogs to sponsor an Assistance Dog

by Julie Carlisle

This week (7 – 13 August 2023) is International Assistance Dog Week and this year we're excited to mark it by announcing a new partnership with Support Dogs, a national charity dedicated to saving ...

Conservation innovation – working towards a world for both humans and wildlife

Conservation innovation – working towards a world for both humans and wildlife

by Matthew Barton

With a rapidly growing human global population, predicted to reach 10 billion by 2057, our impact on the planet becomes more and more evident. Our constant drive for growth and development puts a ...

Antibody therapy for pets – following the human lead

Antibody therapy for pets – following the human lead

by Alex Galbraith

Over recent decades monoclonal antibody (mAb) therapy has developed from a standing start to become an established tool in the arsenal of human medicine. Last year the US FDA approved the 100th ...

Vets: who’s taking care of the animal caregivers?

Vets: who’s taking care of the animal caregivers?

by Matthew Barton

Our pets are members of the family, and we would do everything we can to make sure they stay fit and healthy. Sometimes this might involve a trip to the vets, which can be an upsetting experience not ...

A patent attorney, a dog and meaning in the job

A patent attorney, a dog and meaning in the job

by Andrew Pitts

4 October 2022 is World Animal Day and we can reflect on how the strong bond with our canine friends has changed our lives in unexpected ways. For instance, it can sometimes be hard to find deeper ...

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Veterinary Oncology

One in three dogs will get, and die from, cancer. This means there is a huge need for new and effective oncological treatments for animals.

In the past, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies have dragged their feet in the development of new cancer drugs for pets, perhaps due to a belief that the desire for expensive therapeutics in the pet market would be limited, in comparison to the human field. However, recently there has been a uptick of interest in this area, with nearly 4,000 patents being published last year mentioning “veterinary oncology”.

One area of focus is the development of new monoclonal antibodies which could be programmed to target cancer cells. However, in contrast to chemical drugs, which may have been developed for humans and can then be effectively repurposed for veterinary applications, biologics such as monoclonal antibodies are in most cases species-specific. Consequently, there is a need for the development of monoclonal antibodies for veterinary use which are not simply repurposed from human medicine, but instead are designed with the purpose of effectively treating pets in mind. A number of companies are active in this area and several fully caninized or felinized antibodies have now been developed. There is hope that breakthroughs in monoclonal antibody research will lead to new and effective treatments for cancer. However, to develop a bespoke veterinary-focused approach, more expensive research and development will be needed.

Genetics also plays a key role in research into animal cancers. For example cats tend to get different types of cancers to dogs. For dogs, cancers are even breed-specific; this allows researchers to look at genetic variations between different breeds to determine the genetic effect which is leading to the cancer.

Research into animal cancer is also of relevance to human research. Due to the shorter lifespan of most companion animals the survival rate can be assessed more quickly. This allows for quicker test cycles and quicker evaluation. In addition, the regulatory framework around animal oncology is often less strict than those around human clinical trials, meaning that research can be conducted more easily and with less expense. Therefore, the development of treatments for animals might be a quicker route for the development of treatments for humans.

Open pages of Green IP Report

Green IP Report

Patents are both a driver and a barometer of innovation

Our report examines the role of patents in making innovative ‘green’ technologies into a reality as well as how the patent landscape can be used to identify opportunities for partnering, collaboration and investment.

We share our enthusiasm and admiration for commercially-focused innovation across a diverse range of technologies, from repurposing carbon dioxide to make protein-rich foods, to the multi-faceted approach to a circular plastics economy. We also discuss the tantalising prospect of AI-mediated renewable energy supply, and the harnessing of battery tech from the EV boom to drive energy efficiency in consumer devices. This report reflects our passion for technology solutions that tackle our shared global challenge. 

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Forward-looking for Animal Health

We understand the importance of animals and the key role pets play in boosting the mental health of their owners. Improvements in animal health can help unlock additional years of quality life expectancy for animals and alleviate unnecessary suffering.

Ensuring that the IP generated through research into animal health is well protected has a key role in driving innovation in this field and will allow new treatments for animals to be unlocked based on new research efforts. Due to the risk associated with the development of new drugs and the cost of veterinary trials, exclusivity such as patent protection is vital to ensure that innovator companies recoup their R&D investment.

We work with a range of scientists, veterinarians and professionals across the animal health field. We are experienced in helping innovators protect their new inventions in the animal health field, as well as helping defend IP rights against competitive entities trying to enter the market.

Community Giving

Support Dogs

We are proud sponsors of Support Dogs, a national charity dedicated to saving and improving the lives of children and adults with various challenging medical conditions. They provide, train and support specialist assistance dogs. We are delighted to have donated £20,000 which will be used to develop a puppy through the different stages of training into its role as a disability, autism or seizure alert dog.

Find out more
Support Dogs

Meet our Animal Health Team

Dog line up

The World of Canine Oncology

Insights from dog cancer specialist Dr Clare Knottenbelt's who studies and treats man's best friends.

Dog cancer should be bigger news. It's not merely that one in three dogs will get, and die from, cancer. It's the fascinating link between canine oncology and human treatment. The two are intertwined. Leads from one discipline easily spill over to the other. And at times it's the dog researchers leading the way.


Read the full article