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By Anna Humalamäki, University of Helsinki

In April 2024 Vetcare and the University of Helsinki signed a partnership agreement to further deepen their research collaboration of over 30 years.

The partnership between the University of Helsinki and Vetcare goes back all the way to 1992. The company was founded just a year earlier to meet the needs of veterinarians and animals by importing in-demand medicines without distributors.

“Over the years, we realised we could develop our own drugs and products too,” says Olli Kuussaari, Vetcare’s CEO.

These efforts rely considerably on groundbreaking research collaboration with the University of Helsinki.

Vesa Myllys, Vetcare’s R&D Director, says that over time the collaboration has encompassed everything from research project funding and commissioned scholarly research to funding both for residency training programmes and for an associate professorship.

“So far this century, not a year has gone by without the University and Vetcare being involved in a project of some sort,” says Olli Peltoniemi, Dean of the University’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine.

The productive collaboration has now continued for over 30 years.

“The crown jewel of our research collaboration is Zenalpha, a medetomidine and vatinoxan hydrochlorides injection. It is used for the sedation and analgesia of dogs during clinical examinations as well as non-invasive, painless or mildly painful procedures lasting up to 30 minutes. The vatinoxan in the sedative alleviates the adverse effects of medetomidine on the heart and promotes the release of insulin, which prevents the hyperglycemic effects of medetomidine,” says Kuussaari.

The use of vatinoxan is an innovation arising from basic research. The Zenalpha collaboration has led to over 100 research papers and about a dozen doctoral theses. So far, collaboration projects with such significant innovation contributions remain uncommon.

“But we hope to see more such stories thanks to our long-term efforts and partnerships,” says Peltoniemi.

Partnership agreement with University opens new doors

A successful partnership is based on the parties understanding each other’s aims and needs and discussing issues openly and honestly.

“The long collaboration between the University and Vetcare has been ideal for developing a shared understanding,” says Peltoniemi.

The University’s international networks benefit Vetcare, and the increasingly close collaboration opens up new opportunities for developing and marketing innovations. Shared interests can be identified, for example, within the One Health concept.

“The partnership agreement we have now signed means we will collaborate even more actively and systematically and are committed to shared goals. The further development of scholarly research is naturally an important goal: we wish to link the academic and business worlds to ensure they support each other optimally,” notes Kuussaari.

Collaboration is an important component of Vetcare’s operations.

“Within the framework of the future partnership agreement, 80–90% of our research work will be based on it. Science and the academic community are crucial for pharmaceutical development. At the same time, it’s clear to us that academic freedom and autonomy lie at the core of research,” says Myllys.

Multidisciplinarity is a valuable asset

Among the University of Helsinki faculties, the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine is a leader in multidisciplinary activities, collaborating closely with the faculties of pharmacy and medicine, among others.

“Our researchers issue over half of all their publications together with scholars from other faculties, and a third of our professorships are shared with other units,” states Peltoniemi.

Experts from different fields can provide multidisciplinary studies and projects with a variety of perspectives and skills, thus enriching research and generating creative solutions and innovations.

“We see the multidisciplinary approach as important for increasing the value of the partnership,” says Myllys.

(More information: University of Helsinki – Press Release; Featured image credit: Freepik)

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