Innovations for Unmet Needs

The animal health industry is investing in exciting innovations that will have a profound impact on animal health and welfare. Stronger immunity, improved prevention strategies, earlier and more specific diagnosis, and more accurate and effective treatment will all improve animal health, leading to lower emissions, reduced natural resource use, and fewer animals lost.


Innovations in vaccine development can lead to new vaccines against previously deadly and costly diseases, as well as new ways to expand existing vaccinations to more regions and species.

These new therapies work by giving cells in the body a blueprint for how to fight off infectious disease. This recent breakthrough differs from traditional vaccines, which use an inactivated virus that triggers the immune system. mRNA vaccines instead provide a genetic code that acts as instructions, showing the immune system how it can recognize and fight the disease. This safely equips the body to fight viruses without needing to use the virus itself. This means vaccines can be produced more efficiently, at lower costs and with fewer risks.

Timeframe: One to five years

New vaccine platforms can improve the efficiency and precision of mass vaccination. For example, systems that deliver vaccines to day-old chicks using a conveyor belt or inside the egg before hatching can improve vaccination rate among poultry. In aquaculture, oral vaccines and emerging automated injection systems allow for effective protection while avoiding time-consuming manual injections.

Timeframe: Products are already on the market

When vaccines must be kept at cold, sometimes subzero, temperatures until they are administered to remain effective, it can limit their use in tropical and temperate climates. This can hold back vaccination efforts in tropical countries or areas where refrigeration is not possible. Heat-resistant vaccines that remain effective at room temperature can help significantly reduce costs and improve animal health in developing regions. This has been achieved for vaccines against diseases including rinderpest, and more are forthcoming.

Timeframe: Products are already on the market

Autogenous vaccines offer farmers protection tailored specifically to their animals and situation. When a veterinarian recognizes that a herd is infected with a disease strain where standard vaccines may be ineffective, they can request a ‘custom’ or autogenous vaccine. Using a culture sample from the herd, the company will produce a vaccine targeted to that specific virus strain, which can help effectively protect uninfected animals on the farm and/or in nearby herds.

Timeframe: Products are already on the market


True alternatives to antibiotics are products that target bacteria in a similar way and cure bacterial infection. Other innovations that reduce infection risk also reduce the need for antibiotics but cannot truly be called an alternative because they cannot treat a bacterial infection.

Literally defined as “bacteria eaters,” bacteriophages are a type of virus that infects bacteria and destroys the host cells. Unlike antibiotics, bacteriophages are narrow in their application and target specific bacteria, therefore cannot be applied using a blanket approach. This is one reason why, although bacteriophages have been researched for decades, viable products have yet to reach the market. Like antibiotics, developments in bacteriophages that are also efficacious in people would likely be reserved for human medicine.

Estimated timeframe: 10 years or more

Ongoing research into cold and ambient plasmas – or ionised gases – has shown that these substances can destroy harmful pathogens without leaving residues. A number of studies indicate that plasmas, which can be applied using a laser-like device to deliver a stream of plasma to a targeted area, could be used to prevent and treat microbial infections without damaging the tissue or posing a notable risk of causing antimicrobial resistance. Research suggests that the plasmas interfere with bacterial DNA and neutralize them. Cold and ambient plasmas could therefore reduce the need for antibiotics in treating chronic infections and could also be used to decontaminate environments and improve biosecurity.

Estimated timeframe: One to five years

Also known as AMPs, these broad-spectrum antimicrobial molecules are produced in almost all animals as part of the immune system. In recent years, AMPs have become one of the most widely researched alternatives to conventional antibiotics due to their potency. AMPs could combat microbes and diseases without a significant risk of causing resistance.

Estimated timeframe: Five to 10 years

Using nanotechnology, or tiny particles, to treat antibiotic-resistant bacteria is in development and test trials. Nanoparticles delivering antibacterial substances, such as propolis, a compound made by bees to protect their hives, could be added to animal feed to help treat infection. Such treatments could be customized for specific species and herds as an effective alternative to using antibiotics.

Estimated timeframe: Five to 10 years.

Treatments that direct the immune system response could harness an animal’s natural defenses against a bacterial infection. Immunotherapies are well known in human health fields such as cancer treatment, where these treatments are used to direct the immune system to attack certain cells or infections. Research is underway to create a better understanding of the livestock immune system and how a similar response could be elicited for bacterial disease.

Estimated timeframe: Five to 10 years.


Warming temperatures due to climate change are allowing parasites to thrive in new regions, increasing the urgency to discover new parasiticides and other methods of parasite control.

New vaccines that use mRNA technologies to control parasites could allow more effective vaccines that can be reliably produced. Parasite vaccines developed through traditional methods (e.g. attenuated) are often difficult to reliably manufacture for companies. For example, parasites may need to be harvested for production, which poses challenges for standardization and quality control. As a result, only a handful of parasite vaccines are available in veterinary medicines. However, mRNA could allow for more reliable production as these can avoid the difficulties of traditional methods.

Timeframe: Five to ten years

Flea and tick control products that can be administered orally are a growing segment of the pet market and will likely expand to livestock. Traditional parasiticides are administered through methods such as injection, topicals, and pour-on. These are effective but may require training or experience for proper application. Oral parasiticides can provide an easier, simpler, and more convenient form of administration.

Timeframe: Products are already on the market

Parasiticides that degrade quickly after use can limit entry into the environment and offer a ‘greener’ product profile. Parasite resistance is a concern in both animal and human health, and limiting entry of parasiticides into the environment is an important part of responsible use. Parasiticides that degrade in an animal before it is excreted, or shortly thereafter, can reduce the amount of active ingredient that may enter the environment.

Estimated Timeframe: Three to five years


Diagnostic innovation is happening in the digital sphere where artificial intelligence and user-friendly tools are potential game-changers for the animal health industry.

AI has the ability to improve diagnostics by enabling more predictable, rapid analysis of samples that can quickly and effectively identify disease. For example, AI algorithms can detect parasitic eggs in fecal samples, reducing the workload of veterinarians, who would normally need to compare sample slides for signs of parasites. This could provide greater accuracy over traditional, in-clinic analyses of samples that are subject to human error. Not only can this enable faster or even real-time results, it can also allow for predictive diagnoses via algorithms that determine the probability of animal disease.

Timeframe: Products are already on the market

These devices are tiny chips that can conduct analyses on extremely small volumes of fluids, such as blood. This enables practitioners to bring diagnostic devices to the point-of-care, which increases convenience for the user and improves the chances of early detection of disease. Since microfluidic devices can test smaller sample volumes than conventional tests, this also helps to reduce costs and turnaround time.

Timeframe: Products are already on the market

This refers to a collection of techniques for analyzing biological markers in the genetic code and proteins of an organism. It is a promising field in veterinary medicine that is rapidly evolving. While these technologies exist in laboratories, many pharmaceutical actors are looking to bring this high-precision method to the point-of-care in the livestock industry to improve the accuracy of diagnostics.

Timeframe: Five to 10 years

Digital Technologies

Advancements in digital monitoring and surveillance are rapidly transforming the animal health landscape, bringing improvements in speed and efficiency that enable individual-level treatment even in groups of hundreds or thousands of animals.

New technology can allow farmers and veterinarians to treat herds at an individual level at a scale that is near impossible when relying solely on farm staff. Sensors or smart tags on cattle, for example, detect health issues in a single animal before they affect the rest of the herd. Sound monitoring systems catch the first signs of an issue on fish farms based off the volume and frequency of feed consumption. Thermal cameras see the first elevated temperature amongst an entire cattle herd. These innovations allow for earlier diagnosis and targeted treatments, leading to improved animal health and reduced costs.

Timeframe: Products are already on the market

Cameras, microphones, and sensors can produce accurate, real-time data demonstrating animals’ wellbeing, productivity and performance. Surveillance can be applied to anything from livestock pens to fish cages without the need for additional staff. For pets, smart collars enable owners to continuously monitor key health data that can be used to optimize care.

Timeframe: Products are already on the market

The smart design of animal accommodation such as pens and barns can improve animal health and incorporate monitoring and surveillance. High negative air pressure, similar to clean rooms in hospitals, can create a controlled environment while systems to monitor heat and ventilation can also ensure optimum conditions.

Timeframe: Products are already on the market

Safe Development

Rigorous testing of new medical products on live animals raises concerns about animal welfare. Developing safer, quicker, and less expensive alternatives for demonstrating safety and efficacy can reduce the cost of product development and limit the need for live animals.

Biomarkers have the potential to demonstrate drug or treatment efficacy more quickly and accurately in both people and animals by measuring biological processes associated with specific diseases, rather than clinical outcomes such as disease progression or mortality. This allows some medicines to be evaluated without subjecting an animal to increased handling and stress. Examples of biomarkers include a change in blood pressure or the appearance of certain proteins.

Advances in scientific understanding of biomarkers can also help develop targeted treatments and measure their impact before full symptoms emerge. In some cases, biomarkers, such as genetic mutations showing a predisposition to cancer, are relevant to both human and animal health, creating an opportunity for cross-disciplinary collaboration to advance the “One Health” agenda that recognizes the overlaps between the sectors.

Estimated timeframe: Up to 10 years

Testing a new product on cells or tissue in a lab (in-vitro) is an emerging alternative to animal testing. To test vaccines against diseases. Scientists are also exploring whether genetic modification can provide an efficient source of white blood cells on which to test a potential vaccine candidate. These could help demonstrate a vaccine’s potential efficacy sooner without the need for animal testing.

Estimated timeframe: Up to 10 years


Growing knowledge about the role of nutrition, gut health, and natural immunity to disease is opening up new opportunities for improved animal health and welfare.

Pre- and pro-biotic molecules added to animal feed can prevent disease and target specific health challenges, such as mastitis in cows or vibriosis in aquaculture. Combining different elements in feed can provide multiple, direct benefits from increased immunity, reduced gut bacteria and a balanced digestive system.

Timeframe: Products already on the market

Phytogenic, or plant-based, substances with anti-bacterial properties are increasingly being identified, combined and added to animal feed to alter the gut microbiome, improve immunity, and protect against specific diseases. Combining the different, natural and beneficial qualities of essential oils and plants like oregano, yucca, quillaia, garlic, and mushroom can offer improvements in health that reduce the need for traditional antibiotics in both livestock and aquaculture. Research is under way to develop feed additives that can help reduce Salmonella and Campylobacter in poultry.

Estimated timeframe: One to five years

Alternative animal feeds such as insect-based protein and seaweeds are opening opportunities for precision nutrition. Feeding animals according to stage of life, gut health, and environmental factors offers benefits for health and welfare, sustainability, and traceability. New products are being tested for palatability and impact on animal-sourced food.

Estimated timeframe: One to five years

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