GREENSBORO – A brighter future for cats with chronic kidney disease (CKD) may be on the horizon.
Greensboro-based Piedmont Animal Health, which develops, licenses, and markets animal health therapeutics, worked with Wake Forest University’s Institute of Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM) to develop a novel therapy that targets the progressive and debilitating disease.
Often seen in older cats, there are currently no treatments available for CKD.
“With WFIRM in our backyard and a shared interest in improving the standard of care, it was natural for both of us to work together,” said Doug Hepler, Ph.D., Scientific Director of Piedmont.
Featured in the March 2021 issue of Frontiers in Veterinary Science, the treatment involves an intrarenal injection of a recombinant human chemokine, CXCL-12. It has been studied in two preclinical studies and one clinical study.
“The results of the two preclinical studies showed that CXCL-12 restored normal kidney structure in cats with clinically induced fibrosis and provided evidence of how the treatment works against the kidney changes associated with CKD damage,” the company said in a message Publication.
“A subsequent pilot clinical study demonstrated the feasibility of administering CXCL-12 with no apparent side effects over the nine-month study period.”
Hepler said these results suggest that working together could make a “big difference” in the lives of cat owners and their beloved pets.
“Anyone who has had a cat with chronic kidney disease knows how heartbreaking it is to watch it go down and do very little about it,” he said. “Our goal is to turn this story into a much more positive one.”
People could also benefit from it one day, say experts.
“The results of these studies together show that intrarenal injection of CXCL-12 may be a potential new therapy for the treatment of early-stage kidney disease in cats, which is widespread,” said Koudy Williams, research director at WFIRM Heard Julie Bennington, a research fellow and Ph.D. Candidate. “This is a good example of how a disease common to both animals and humans can be studied and potentially applied to the disease in humans.”
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Founded in 2016, Piedmont has collaborative projects with academic and corporate partners across the state.
In 2003, the North Carolina Biotechnology Center granted a $ 150,000 critical loan during its startup phase. The company used this to raise $ 9.5 million in risk financing. It is now privately owned and ventured by Talu Ventures of Brisbane, Australia. NCBiotech published a comprehensive profile of Piedmont in 2017.
“This collaboration is a strong example of how the Piedmont Triad region continues to grow into a thriving center for life sciences in key areas of strength – human and animal health,” said Nancy Johnston, general manager of NCBiotech’s Piedmont Triad Office.
“It is a testament to the successful regional interaction between thought leaders in science and industry with the talent and ability to translate discoveries into clinical therapies,” she said.
Michael Kelly, Piedmont Animal Health’s Chief Financial Officer and Chairman of the NCBiotech Piedmont Triad Advisory Committee, recognized his company’s commitment to the Regional Committee as a catalyst for successful collaboration.
“This collaboration is a direct result of the valuable networking that takes place in the NCBiotech Regional Committee meetings,” said Kelly.
© North Carolina Biotechnology Center
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