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After raising new capital, veterinary medicine company Panion Animal Health is now ready to ramp up development of its treatment method for canine epilepsy. At the same time, discussions are under way for a licensing deal with a German company that could give Panion access to a new major market.
“There is a very good likelihood that Panion will have two products in the pipeline within two to four years,” says Lars Thunberg, chairman of Panion Animal Health.
In May Panion raised 7.5 million kronor via a new share issue. The capital infusion will enable Panion to proceed with a pilot study in which the effect of the company’s treatment method in dogs will be investigated.
Epilepsy is a serious disorder with recurrent seizures that affects roughly one percent of all dogs. This means that, of the millions of family dogs throughout the world that suffer epileptic seizures, about one third cannot be treated effectively with currently available drugs. This impairs quality of life for both the dog and the owner.
By combining advances in neurological research with modern gene therapy, Panion has developed an entirely new method for gene therapeutic treatment of dogs suffering from epilepsy. Earlier studies conducted in animals in Denmark have shown promising results. Panion’s exclusive license covers important markets in the USA and Europe.
“We are moving forward into an interesting phase and I am fully convinced that our product development will create real value. The outlook for treating epilepsy and other chronic diseases with gene therapy is very bright,” says Lars Thunberg.

The USA is the home market
That the planned study will be conducted at the epilepsy clinic of a university hospital in North Carolina, USA, is no accident, according to Lars Thunberg.
“We’ve always had our sights set on the US and it is no exaggeration to say that this is our home market. When it comes to veterinary medicine, it is the world’s largest, not least where dogs are concerned,” he says.
The pilot study is expected to reach completion this autumn, after which a further study will be conducted. Then, appropriate doses will be determined, both with respect to the efficacy of the treatment and in terms of side effects.
“The development plan is advancing, qualified consultants are engaged and we have begun the process with the US Food and Drug Administration for fee exemption,” explains Lars Thunberg, pointing out that the FDA sets the agenda for the studies.
“We plan to have a meeting with the FDA to clarify the requirements as soon as possible,” he adds.
Subsequently, concluding studies will be done. The treatment may be launched sometime around 2020. By then, Panion may very well have other projects in the offing.

Licensing deal under way
Panion is currently engaged in discussions with a German company, GeneQuine, which is now developing a gene therapy treatment for equine osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common disorder among horses and dogs. Since drugs that are effective for treating osteoarthritis over the long term are not currently available, this area constitutes a significant unmet medical need. Negotiations concern Panion’s future acquisition of the license from GeneQuine.
“We have a Letter of Intent, and an agreement may be reached very soon,” says Thunberg, who believes the deal could be a perfect fit for Panion.
“This would broaden our portfolio, while the two different businesses would be closely related,” he says, adding, “When it comes to veterinary medicine, the equine market is also very large. And, as with dogs, the American market is the largest.”
Current estimates value the market in question – treatment of equine osteoarthritis – at between 60 and 80 million dollars per year in the USA alone.
That Panion is moving into the US market is evidenced by the fact that the company has opened an office in New York, with local specialists who have indepth knowledge of the market.
“Panion recently concluded a road show in the USA, where the company was presented for several investment banks. The American market for veterinary gene therapy has enormous potential,” says Lars Thunberg.
Panion’s share has been traded on Aktietorget since early July.