2022-11-29| Startups

Protect Bio, the Next Rising Star in the Blue Ocean Market of Companion Animals’ Healthcare

by Aurora Mau
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It is no news that the childbirth rate is declining each year. However, you might not realize that it has reached a point where the number of pets is more than the number of children under the age of 15 for the first time in Taiwan’s history in 2020. What’s more, according to Taiwan’s Pets Registration Information System, there were over 160,000 newly registered pets in 2021, with the number continuing to grow by 10% each year. On the other hand, the number of newborns was less than 140,000. All the booking data shows one fact that we cannot ignore, the animal market is growing bigger than you think. 

A Growing Blue Ocean Market with Multiple Unmet Needs

With the pet population boom, the awareness of owners valuing their health status is growing along with it. Therefore, the global pet care market reached over $261 billion in 2022, up from $245 billion in 2021, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.1%. It is estimated that the market size will be up to $350 billion by 2027.

However, pets, also known as companion animals, do not have enough specific oncology drugs available on the market because pharmaceuticals’ animal drug development mostly emphasizes commercial animals. In addition, the price and regulatory issues lead to limited treatment options for veterinarians.

Seeing the unmet needs in the continually growing companion animals market, Taiwan start-up Protect Bio decided to weigh in with a PD-1 targeting drug to provide more treatment options for these furkids.

Building On PD-1 Targeting Therapies for Pets

Founded in Taipei, Taiwan, in 2019, Protect Bio’s ambition is to become an immuno-oncology pioneer in the companion animal healthcare industry. It has established a strong research team by gathering experts from various businesses in the human healthcare sector together to “bring the PD-1 concept to dogs”. 

Protect Bio
Protect Bio, the next rising star in the blue ocean market of companion animals’ healthcare

Protect Bio is currently working on two oncology product candidates, PT001, a recombinant protein, and PT002, a DNA vaccine. The company has already collected positive early data for both products, demonstrating they can successfully trigger an immune response and inhibit tumor growth in mouse models. They have recently entered into safety studies for treating malignant tumors in dogs. 

Becoming The Incubator of Companion Animals’ Drug Development

In traditional human drug discovery and development, it takes over 15 years and a great fortune to build a product, from selecting the drug candidates to preclinical study and clinical trials, leading to most start-up pharmaceuticals giving up halfway through. However, for animal drugs’ development, it only takes around 6.5 years and $22.5 million to bring a new companion animal drug product to market, according to a study conducted by U.S. domestic market by HealthforAnimals in 2015.

To leverage the animal drug market’s characteristics to its advantage, Protect Bio adopted a No Research, Development Only (NRDO) business model to focus on preclinical and clinical development without the worry of researching for commercialization purposes. With so few animal pharmaceutical companies in Taiwan, the industry is relatively untapped and ripe for the picking. 

Though it is starting with canine cancer therapy development, Protect Bio plans to branch out into infectious diseases, pain management, osteoarthritis, dermatology, and ophthalmology in the future. Development is only one part of the equation for the company, though, which has big ambitions to become an incubator for companion animal drug development programs. In addition, Protect Bio collaborated with other vet biotechs to combine testing and treatment programs, providing better healthcare options for the growing number of furry friends in Taiwan. 

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