Unexpected health: Startups and VCs bet on pet genetics

Direct-to-consumer home gene pools have allowed startups like 23andMe to provide insights into health and assets at an affordable cost. Now, similar technology is coming for pets.

It will help veterinarians, breeders, and pet parents check paternity and breeding, diagnose diseases and plan for future health risks.

Says Sergey Jakimov, co-founder of LongeVC, a European venture capital fund focused on early stage biotechnology and longevity. “This is very exciting because pets, as living organisms, have been equally important in terms of the amount of money and attention spent on longevity, and in disease diagnosis and prevention.”

This isn’t the first time human health innovation has come to the animal world — the US site Signal Pet, for example, provides AI-powered radiology — but animal genetics can be big business.

The revenue of the animal genetics market is expected to exceed $6.4 billion by 2027up from $99 million in 2020. He dug into the sector and found startups to watch — and venture capital visionaries to keep an eye on.

Preventive and calm health

Virgen, a pet genetics startup based in Austria, sees the veterinarian sector as a growth engine for its business. She wants to move from diagnosis, where these tools are common, to disease prevention.

Puppies are like family members

We want to push the blocking angle. What can we learn from genetics to create a life plan for a dog? ” Says Anja Geretschläger, Founder and CEO. “Pet parents are becoming more interested in understanding the disease risk that may occur when the animal is five or six years old, so they are more prepared when symptoms appear.”

Michael Gerrichlager, Anja’s husband and collaborator, says preventative health “is increasing [attention] Because puppies are more like family members.” Anja Geretschläger adds that genetic insights are valuable to breeders in the age of “designer dogs.”

This is because cross breeding can lead to health complications, such as the development of skin problems due to the different fur structures between the Labrador and the Poodle.

players to watch

Another European player is Germany-based Generatio, which provides genetic testing to animal owners, veterinarians and breeders.

There is also UK-based AffinityDNA, which was acquired in mayo by Australian diagnostics company Genetic Technologies, which provides animal testing for allergies and intolerances, paternity testing and direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic testing from companies such as Embark, Wisdom Panel and BasePaws.

The portfolio includes genetic technologies General Organization for Heredity and the associated brand EasyDNAwhich provides UK pet owners with breed composition tests, disease susceptibility tests for dogs, and cat and horse shows.

European venture capitalists are also interested in emerging projects across the pond. LongeVC, a company based in Cyprus and Switzerland with an entire Latvian founding team, was an investor in Basepaws, an American cat genetics company recently acquired by Zoetis, an animal pharmaceutical and immunization company.

Basepaws plans for sought In the veterinary portfolio of genetic, oral, and microbiome screening tools for disease risk, they examined 64 cat health markers and more than 210 canine health markers.

From human to animal, and from animal to human

For some, the field of pet genetics isn’t just a game in the pet market, but it can teach human health and the science of longevity. Some diseases are rare in humans but common in certain breeds of pets, which is useful in studies of the origins of genetic diseases.

“There is a close relationship between humans and animals and we can learn from both,” he says. Anja Geretschläger.

LongeVC’s investment in Basepaws, for example, was never a bet in the pet consumer market. Instead it was in keeping with the fund’s interest in human longevity, Given the genetic overlap between animals and humans in diseases such as cancer and some neurodegenerative conditions.

There is a close relationship between humans and animals and we can learn from both.”

“These overlaps are why we have animal models in clinical trials, because metabolic processes are translatable,” Yakimov says. “There are tons of matches.”

Matt Kaeberlin, professor of laboratory medicine and pathology at the University of Washington School of Medicine and head of the Canine Aging Project, A world-leading biological study on canine aging, she is a member of the LongeVC advisory board, along with CEOs from European pharmaceutical giants Roche and Novartis. LongVC co-founder Gary Zmodzi was an investor in Insilica Medicine, an AI-powered unicorn drug discovery company.

As home to many of the world’s major pharmaceutical companies, Europe can be a major player in them longevity search. Switzerland is developing the “Longevity Valley” initiative, Bristol Myers Squibb and Merck are major investors in cancer immunotherapies, and the pharmaceutical industry is investing in early-stage, long-life companies such as senescent cell companies, through initiatives such as the venture arm In the early stage of Merck.

“Pharma companies live in the future, and they live in cycles of 10 to 20 years,” Jakimov says. “They are excellent Focus on the longevity sector.”

This article first appeared in the monthly newsletter Unleashed Pet Technology, in association with Purina Accelerator Lab. All content is editorially independent. Participation To our newsletter here to keep up to date with the latest developments in the European pet technology industry.

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