Upstart Gour Medical Animal Health, which recently agreed to acquire a portfolio of four products to be reformulated for pet care, is also negotiating for three or four additional products.
“We are leveraging other people’s investments in the human biopharmaceutical industry to in-license products, improve their formulations and enhance their safety and efficacy, in order to bring therapeutics to pets,” chairman and CEO, Serge Goldner, says in an interview with BioTuesdays.com.
“These new therapeutic and preventative solutions will serve major unmet medical conditions in animal health,” he adds.
They include disorders of the eyes, ears and skin, periodontal disease, a new insulin injector for small animals with diabetes, a product for health and wellness in pets and a longer-term immunotherapy project to treat cancer diseases in pets.
Founded in 2013, closely held Gour Medical of Israel is hitting the ground running as the animal biotech sector is heating up.
For example, Aratana Therapeutics went public in June 2013 and consolidated the industry with two acquisitions: Vet Therapeutics and Okapi Sciences of Belgium. Pfizer also spun off its Zoetis animal health segment in a $2.2-billion IPO, Bayer acquired Teva Animal Health for $145-million, Perrigo acquired Velcera for $160-million, and Ceva Santé Animale acquired Sogeval, a unit of French industrial and financial company, Sofiprotéol.
Mr. Goldner says Gour Medical is in the process of raising $2-million for its initial go-to-market plans and pipeline development, and has additional financing plans for 2015 and 2016 in its business plan.
“We have had feedback from U.S. investment bankers willing to take Gour Medical public as early as 2015, if the window is still open after our product launches, and after we’ve established a presence in the U.S. and demonstrated significant proof of concept and IP from our biologics venture,” he says. “The market for pet biotech is very hot now.”
U.S. pet spending has grown steadily since the mid-1990s, reaching an estimated $56-billion in 2013. Some 68% of U.S. households have either dogs or cats as pets.
Mr. Goldner says Gour Medical, which has close ties with academia in Israel, plans initially to focus on infectious diseases of the ear, mouth, eyes and skin; wellness and nutrition; and technology, with advanced formulations and delivery technology platforms.
The company also is close to signing a deal with France’s le Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS) and project leader, Dr. Jean Kadouche, to develop a proprietary monoclonal antibody platform for the treatment of cancer and other immune related diseases in pets.
“This could be our most valuable asset,” Mr. Goldner contends, noting that the project could take five years at a cost of some $5-million. “However, we are targeting a market of $100-million.”
The company will rely on key opinion leaders in Israel, Switzerland and the U.S. to demonstrate efficacy of its initial products. He says Gour Medical will focus on the regulatory process and manufacturing.
He says the company hopes to achieve initial revenue at the end of 2014 from a planned launch of an over-the-counter (OTC) micro emulsion eye treatment for dogs and horses. The license, from a lead Israeli University, covers a product approved in Europe for humans. Multi-site clinical trials in dogs are set to start in the current second quarter.
“Our edge would be giving drops twice a day instead of every four hours with the currently approved product,” he says. “The risk is not in the product but in the marketing.”
The company’s alcohol-free ear treatment and ear cleaner for dogs and cats is designed for improved penetration and ease of administration. Gour Medical licensed a product with efficacy data in humans from JPMed of Israel. Multi-site clinical trials in dogs and cats are also set to start in the current second quarter.
Mr. Goldner says skin disorders are among the most common health problems in pets. “Our product, which is based on a license from Jerusalem University, is designed to be a slow-release treatment against bacteria, yeasts, viruses and fungi.” Clinical studies in dogs and cats are set to start in the third quarter this year. The company also is in talks to license-in other dermatology platforms.
According to Mr. Goldner, more than 80% of dogs over the age of three develop some sort of periodontal disease, which can lead to bad breath and other side effects that require regular and costly professional cleaning and polishing.
“Our periodontal disease solution is a sustained delivery system that would require one or two applications per month,” he suggests. Also licensed from Jerusalem University, the product’s existing data has demonstrated significantly higher efficacy in the prevention of plaque formation and gingivitis. Clinical studies in dogs would also start in the third quarter this year.
Mr. Goldner says Gour Medical is designing an insulin injector pen for small animals, which would deliver very small amounts of insulin. “This would permit an easier solution to administer the correct dose of insulin.”
Gour Medical also is in discussions with a Swiss trading company for a manufacturing collaboration to adapt resveratrol, a type of natural phenol produced by several plants, for dogs, cats and horses in order to improve health and wellness. While the effects of resveratrol are currently a topic of numerous animal and human studies, Mr. Goldner says the company is considering clinical studies in hopes of demonstrating various medical claims.
He says the company is considering OTC distribution and partnerships for its products, with an initial launch either in North America or Britain. “It depends on where we find the right partners.”