Newswise — Although “Fluffy” and “Fido” are clearly names for our furry friends—and not our children—when it comes to love for our companion animals and their well-being, many people consider them members of the family except with four legs. Consider that more Americans dressed up their pets in costumes last Halloween than ever before—a niche market that is growing steadily every year. Also, consider that more people are spending more money than ever before on a wide range of medical procedures for their pets, such as knee surgeries.

Richard Chin, M.D., the Founder and CEO of San Francisco-based Kindred Biosciences, had a key insight several years ago. At the time, he was CEO of OneWorld Health, a Gates Foundation-funded nonprofit that develops drugs for poverty-stricken patients. Dr. Chin realized that drugs for neglected diseases often come from the veterinary field. In fact, drugs that work for humans almost always work for animals, and vice versa. And diseases in animals, like Alzheimer’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease, asthma, lupus, congestive heart failure, Crohn’s disease and cancer, are twins to those in people.

Despite this, veterinarians and physicians rarely talk to each other. Realizing this, Dr. Chin thought that perhaps there might be hidden opportunities—drugs from the human pharma field that might be developed for pets. Indeed, he found that there were—and that there are plentiful opportunities to grow the field of veterinary medicine by looking at human drugs.

Dr. Chin believes that therapeutics specifically developed and tested through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for pets can extend and improve the quality of the lives of pets, help veterinarians achieve improved medical outcomes and make the process of administering therapeutics to pets much more convenient.

The cost of development for a companion animal product is about one percent of a typical human product, and the time to approval is about 33 percent compared to a human drug equivalent. For example, the cost of a Phase III study can be less than $1.5 million compared to over $1 billion for human drugs. In light of this, Dr. Chin believes the time is nigh for the veterinary pharma sector to reprise the stunning run of success experienced by the human sector over the last several decades.

Dr. Chin, Harvard-trained physician and former Rhodes Scholar, has had a highly successful career, curing blindness with drugs like Lucentis, launching Tysabri to help patients with multiple sclerosis, and developing Xolair for children with asthma. Human drugs he developed sell over $10 billion annually. Now he and his team, which includes Dr. Stephen Sundlof, former head of the veterinary division at the FDA, are charting new ground.

The company is currently developing a series of treatments including CereKin for osteoarthritis pain in dogs and horses; AtoKin for atopic dermatitis in dogs; and SentiKin for post-operative pain in dogs and horses. A pivotal study of CereKin for canine osteoarthritis is now underway and is enrolling dogs across the U.S. Kindred Bio recently had a very successful IPO.