A paper in the American Journal of Pathology chronicles the untold challenges of animal toxicants

Dog and cat owners will be grateful for this sober study of some of the challenges to developing a drug to protect pets from rabies.

We’ve already written about the difficulty that toxicants pose in the development of a pharmaceutical to prevent or treat rabies. It’s not just the sheer toxicity of many toxicants — it’s the fact that these compounds are inhaled or absorbed in the gut and then reach the bloodstream via the circulatory system.

Today, PhysOrg.com provides some background on the issue:

Overall, animal toxics pose the greatest challenge for animal health research. Proteins produced by animal parts (ammonia from chicken or swine, ethylene oxide from insecticides, boric acid from glue, nitrogen from animal feed additives) provide a number of toxins that are important to explore in drug development…yet the toxicity of many proteins is often under-studied. Many proteins that are used to develop drugs for humans are also used in animal feed. Animal illnesses caused by these drugs can take on serious characteristics in a given animal population with potentially fatal consequences. Animal illnesses affecting humans with rabies are only found when human/animal exposures exceed acceptable safe levels… [And…] the use of toxicants in animal feed contributes to the development of diseases, including any increases in “animal burden” associated with production processes that increase the population of animals, as well as any changes in protein protein type…[But] research funding for animal health is limited. Increasing payments for new products led by human drugs were challenged in 2010. (That may be why big pharma was so aggressive in its lobbying to prevent the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from shifting funding to support research into animal health threats.)

Cancer drugs developed using human cells and biotechnology offer an example of an animal health “generating” drug developed without genetic engineering. This approach (definitely not to be confused with “genetically modified” drugs) helped a now-approved cancer drug with proven anti-cancer effects to be ready for human clinical trials quickly. The research that paved the way for this effort has “offset the risk of toxicity” for this promising drug, according to the paper in the American Journal of Pathology.

Still, the discussion on how often we should vaccinate our animals is only starting and who is allowed to administer vaccines.

Covid vaccine for dogs and cats is on the horizon.

This article originally appeared on Vetstreet.

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