Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
This May 30, 2014 photo provided by KC Pet Project, shows two puppies that were treated for canine parvovirus at the Kansas City Pet Project, one of the largest shelters in the country. A Grand Forks, N.D., company is testing a cure for the disease that would make it cheaper and easier to treat the dogs. (AP Photo/KC Pet Project)
Medical trial results promising for curing puppies’ parvo
First Published Jun 01 2014 11:18 am • Last Updated Jun 01 2014 01:13 pm

Grand Forks, N.D. • A North Dakota company that discovered an antibody technology while trying to cure flocks of dying geese is using its research for a more warm and fuzzy purpose: saving puppies.

Early tests performed on about 50 puppies in seven states for Grand Forks-based Avianax have resulted in a 90 percent cure rate for canine parvovirus, which spreads through animal waste and direct contact between dogs, usually at kennels, shelters and shows. Some puppies die from the virus and others are euthanized because the antibiotics and other medicine needed to treat it can be too expensive — sometimes up to $2,000 — and take too long.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

It isn’t clear how many dogs contract parvo annually, since the disease isn’t required to be reported. At the Kansas City Pet Project, one of eight test sites and among the largest shelters in the United States, about five cases a month wind up on the "parvo ward." Officials with the Missouri shelter believe the treatment will lead to a dramatic increase in their "parvo graduates."

"When the box arrived we were yelling, ‘Woo, the geese antibodies are here!’" shelter spokeswoman Tori Fugate said. "Just the fact that someone is caring out there is pretty remarkable. A lot of open admission shelters choose to not treat parvo because it’s considered too much of a resource."

Avianax chief operating officer Richard Glynn hopes to start selling the parvoONE antibody-based treatment — that is, harvested from the yokes of goose eggs — for $75 a dose by next spring.

"I think there will be a lot of puppy owners who will be very happy," Glynn said.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture issued a conditional permit for the field trials that are taking place in sites in Missouri, North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Texas, North Carolina and Arizona. Such permits are normally reserved for outbreaks or other dire situations, but this one passed muster because there’s no product specifically targeted for parvovirus, said Jeremy Vrchota, Avianax’s sales director and regulatory liaison.

Officials with the USDA’s Animal and Plant Inspection Service did not respond to phone messages left by The Associated Press.

The company’s path to puppy love began a decade ago after a mysterious disease — later found to be West Nile virus — spread among flocks at the South Dakota-based Schiltz Goose Farm, the largest goose producer in North America. Farm owners James and Richard Schiltz and Glynn, who was working for them, found researchers at the University of North Dakota who were interested in the project.

The group, led by Dr. David Bradley, the UND medical school’s chair of microbiology and immunization, discovered antibodies in the geese that they could purify and put back into other birds. The treatment worked.


story continues below
story continues below

"We went to the Mayo Clinic and they looked at all our work," Glynn said. "They called it a game-changing technology."

Avianax quickly found promising links between goose antibodies and treatments for other diseases, including rabies, dengue fever, avian flu and some cancers. Because they didn’t have the money or time to explore testing for human diseases, the group set their sights on the veterinary market and eventually settled on saving puppies.

Treating parvovirus currently can cost, at a minimum, $500 for antibiotics, intravenous fluids, painkillers and stomach medicine and generally takes six days, said Dr. Darin Meulebroeck, chief medical officer for Avianax. The trials have shown the new drug can work quickly as two days, he said.

"We’ve lost a couple that have been so severe ... there’s no drug that is going to treat 100 percent of everything," Meulebroeck said.

The tests run through November.

Glynn said Avianax has "stuck in there" with the help of key researchers and believes it is on the verge of saving human lives with a similar antibody— although it could take more than five years to reach the market. The U.S. Army is interested in using the technology for Andres virus, which has been found to lead to a fatal respiratory disease. Safety trials are scheduled in the next two years.

"We went from being goose herders from South Dakota to an antibody company," Glynn said. "And we’re not done yet."



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.