By Rachael Rees • The Bulletin

After receiving numerous calls to treat horses infected with Pigeon Fever, veterinarian Patrick Young decided it was time to stop treating the symptoms and create a vaccine.

“It’s a debilitating disease,” he said, adding it creates abscesses in horses’ chests. “Essentially it would set these horses out of commission, or out of competition, for two to six months … I wanted to protect my own clients and their horses.”

Young began developing the vaccine in 2011, applied for a provisional patent, licensed it to Denver-based Colorado Serum in March and expects it to be on shelves in less than two years.

“That (experience) kind of led me in the direction of, I need to do more with this because I thoroughly enjoyed it,” he said.

While participating in the Pacific Crest triathlon, Young, a former Oklahoma resident, heard about the Bend Venture Conference and attended the event in October. Inspired, he started Bird Dog Bioventures, which specializes in creating vaccines for regional diseases in animals, in the spring. He relocated his family and his two businesses to Central Oregon last month.

Young’s biotech company fits into Bend’s developing bioscience cluster, which is made up of about 10 companies, including Bend Research, a division of Capsugel, Dosage Form Solutions. Young hopes to work with Bend Research.

“The entrepreneurial environment and that industry really seemed to suit what I wanted from the community,” he said.

James Nightingale, president of Bend Research, said that over the past three or four months the company has taken on more projects with global animal healthcare companies.

“We have five projects right now with various products to formulate new medicines for livestock and companion animals,” Nightingale said. “That’s one of the reasons we’ve been talking to Patrick. We may be able to collaborate on some areas together.”

The research firm Global Industry Analysts predicts the worldwide market for veterinary vaccines will reach $9.0 billion by 2020, according to a news release from the company.

Young has ideas from his experience in the field, Nightingale said, and Bend Research could help him make them into something real.

While Young is pursuing his biotech company, he said, his veterinary practice, The Athletic Horse, helps him identify industry needs, and provides him a steady cash flow. Bringing new pharmaceuticals to market can take time, due to the regulations, he said, and he plans on deriving the majority of his income through royalties.

“The problem with some of vaccines, and the reason some of these larger companies don’t pursue them, is that they don’t see that there’s a market demand,” Young said. “There’s not enough money value to go through the R&D and put their research effort and finances into it. And that’s what I want to do.”

However, developing animal vaccines costs less than creating human vaccines, said Sandra Shotwell, president and COO of DesignMedix, a Portland-based drug discovery and development company. Time to market can also be shorter.

“When you develop a human vaccine, you have to go through animal safety studies and then additional human safety studies,” Shotwell said.

Animal studies typically take 18 months to three years, while human studies can take up to 10, she said.

Shotwell said it makes sense for Bend Research to branch into animal medicine.

“Anytime a company is developing a product for human use, they do tend to think, could this also be used in the veterinary market?” she said. “A lot of the investment that goes into developing a product could be leveraged to open up that new market.”

Young is currently working on other vaccines for horses and companion animals. Through Bird Dog Bioventures, he said, he will be able to help more animals than he can through his veterinary practice.

“Realistically, my goal is not to hit a huge home run. I just want to do some good, help a lot of horses and a lot of animals and in retrospect, I get to help their owners.”

— Reporter: 541-617-7818,