Monoclonal antibodies make leap to veterinary medicine - Veterinary Practice
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Monoclonal antibodies make leap to veterinary medicine

Zoetis has launched the first monoclonal antibody therapy
approved for veterinary use in the European Union.

Cytopoint (lokivetmab) is a targeted treatment for atopic
dermatitis in dogs. The monoclonal antibody targets and
neutralises canine interleukin-31 – a key cytokine involved
in the itching and inflammation associated with atopic
dermatitis. The therapy helps the dog to stop scratching,
allowing wounds to heal.

At the launch event, Thierry Olivry, professor of
immunodermatology at NC State University, noted that
“recombinant biotherapeutics have been used for some
time, but monoclonal antibodies are new because of their
unique target”. Unlike steroids, which can cause an array of
side-effects, the therapy should affect the itching cytokine
without impacting other immune functions.

Atopic dermatitis is very heterogenous, so no treatment
works for 100% of patients, Thierry said, but he claimed
Cytopoint has had an impressive success rate in studies.
The therapy makes a significant difference in just one day
and the antibodies can stay in circulation for up to a month,
says the firm.

The therapy “brings great benefits for quality of life”, it
says – both for the dog and the owner. Cytopoint is easy to
administer and long-lasting – it doesn’t have to be applied
daily like current treatments, and can be given in the
form of a monthly, vet-administered injection. It can also
be used in combination with other medications, including
vaccinations. These factors make a huge difference,
particularly for a disease that often requires lifelong
treatment, Zoetis says.

Speaking at the product launch, Andy Hillier, senior
veterinary specialist at Zoetis, commented: “Monoclonal
antibody therapy is the fastest-growing therapeutic area
in human medicine, and Zoetis has focused on how these
therapies can be translated to animal health.”

There is potential for application to many more chronic veterinary diseases. Monoclonal antibodies could be
beneficial for supporting diagnosis and therapy of cancer in
veterinary oncology and some believe they will be part of
standard care for canine lymphoma within five years.

In the 40 years since their discovery, there has been a
focus on the potential of monoclonal antibodies in human
medicine. The launch of Cytopoint marks the first step for
monoclonal antibodies in veterinary medicine in the EU, but
the potential stretches far beyond canine atopic dermatitis.
In future, monoclonal antibodies may come to be commonly
used for the treatment of infectious diseases, cancer,
immune diseases, and arthritis – in human and veterinary
medicine.

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