TGen launches Vidium Animal Health
TGen subsidiary offers genomic diagnostics in support of veterinary oncologists and pet parents treating canine cancer
PHOENIX, Ariz. — Sept. (28), 2020 — After more than a decade of pioneering the study of naturally occurring cancer in pet dogs, the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), an affiliate of City of Hope, announced today the commercial launch of Vidium Animal Health, providing genomic-based precision-medicine to veterinary oncologists and pet parents.
As a veterinarian, Vidium President Dr. David Haworth has seen first-hand the pain and concern that veterinarians and pet parents experience when a dog is diagnosed with cancer.
“Vidium is built around the human-animal bond, and the fact that the majority of pet owners feel their pet is part of their family,” Dr. Haworth said. “When a pet is diagnosed with cancer, it can be a really scary time for everyone, so we want to offer the very best information, and hope, that science can offer.”
To increase a pets’ chance of survival, Vidium created SearchLight DNA™, a test designed specifically to identify any of the nearly 120 known cancer-associated genetic mutations in dogs, and use the molecular profile of misbehaving genes to help guide diagnosis and treatment.
Vidium Founder and Chief Science Officer Dr. Will Hendricks, an Assistant Professor in TGen’s Integrated Cancer Genomics Division, has spent much of the past decade dedicated to the pursuit of comparative oncology, the study of naturally occurring cancers in animals to better understand human cancers and vice versa.
“It’s clearly a two-way street, with both humans and dogs benefiting from the exchange,” he said.
As a prime example, Dr. Hendricks points to a landmark 2019 study conducted by TGen and The Ohio State University, which found that — like many women who develop a particular type of breast cancer — the same gene, HER2, also appears to play an important role in lung cancer in many dogs.
“Vidium was born from our finding that the genetic underpinnings of canine cancers reflected the same fundamental science that allowed us to apply precision medicine toward treating human cancers,” Dr. Hendricks said. “Cancer gene mutations that have clinical importance in canine oncology are abundant, and with SearchLight DNA our goal is to equip veterinarians with the best information possible to help guide the clinical management of the dogs in their care.”
Katie Banovich, Vidium’s Director of Operations, said the absence of genomic technology in the care of pets is a tremendous void that Vidium hopes to fill, but only with the participation of veterinarians and pet parents.
“Through application of multi-disciplinary genomic science, we want to position Vidium as a partner in the veterinary care team,” Banovich said. “We want to be a guide. We want to work with veterinarians.”
SearchLight DNA reports will be customized with technical language designed for clinicians and easier-to-understand lay language for pet parents that fully communicates the details of their pet’s condition.
While Vidium’s efforts will initially be put toward canine cancer, its goal is to expand its genomic analysis to the treatment of other diseases, and other animals.
Beyond assisting with the diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of dogs with cancer, Vidium will play a continuing role in the discovery of new associations between gene mutations, specific types of cancers in specific breeds of dogs, and clinical outcomes.
“We are going to play an active role in changing the landscape of veterinary care, both through expanding our understanding of genetic biomarkers, and by facilitating access to targeted therapeutics that may make a difference in specific genetic settings,” Dr. Hendricks said.
Vidium Animal Health is a subsidiary of TGen. Learn more at: vidiumah.com.
About TGen, an affiliate of City of Hope
Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) is a Phoenix, Arizona-based nonprofit organization dedicated to conducting groundbreaking research with life-changing results. TGen is affiliated with City of Hope, a world-renowned independent research and treatment center for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases: CityofHope.org. This precision medicine affiliation enables both institutes to complement each other in research and patient care, with City of Hope providing a significant clinical setting to advance scientific discoveries made by TGen. TGen is focused on helping patients with neurological disorders, cancer, diabetes and infectious diseases through cutting-edge translational research (the process of rapidly moving research toward patient benefit). TGen physicians and scientists work to unravel the genetic components of both common and complex rare diseases in adults and children. Working with collaborators in the scientific and medical communities worldwide, TGen makes a substantial contribution to help our patients through efficiency and effectiveness of the translational process. For more information, visit: tgen.org. Follow TGen on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter @TGen.
TGen Senior Science Writer