June 8, 2022

Mars Launches First Pet Biobank to Drive Breakthroughs in Disease Diagnosis & Prevention

Mars Petcare has announced an unprecedented scientific initiative designed to improve understanding of pet health and disease, and help scientists and veterinarians innovate individualized healthcare for pets.

The MARS PETCARE BIOBANKTM aims to be the largest, most comprehensive real-world study of its kind, recruiting 20,000 pets (10,000 dogs and 10,000 cats) across the United States through 10 years. The biobank study will generate longitudinal physiological data from the samples collected and connected to other metadata to gain insights about changes in health status and understand the differences between pets that are healthy as they age and pets that develop diseases. By enrolling their pets in the study, pet owners will help enable new scientific discoveries to improve pet health for generations to come.

“We aim for this biobank to drive breakthroughs in scientific knowledge for the future of pet health,” said Poul Weihrauch, president, Mars Petcare. “Pets make our world better, so it makes sense that we are investing in state-of-the-art research in service of our purpose to make A BETTER WORLD FOR PETSTM.”

Key goals: Early diagnosis and preventive health

“As a veterinary organization that touches the lives of more pets in more places than any other veterinary healthcare provider, we believe this biobank will help transform pet care for future generations of dogs and cats by engaging clients in their pets’ care in a new way and enabling veterinary teams to detect potential health issues before they happen,” said Jennifer Welser, Chief Medical Officer, Mars Veterinary Health. “The insights gleaned from this study have the potential to improve preventive pet care and individualized interventions, enabling even more pets to stay healthy.”

Today, pets are generally diagnosed and treated when disease is already present. The MARS PETCARE BIOBANK data aims to help scientists identify associations of early disease detection.

Scaling scientific insights into pet health

With scientists currently being unable to closely follow the health status of very large numbers of pets throughout their lives in a standardized way, it is challenging to spot patterns and early changes that may precede disease. Looking ahead, as part of the biobank analysis, scientists will study biological samples, pet health trends, genetic and behavior data over the next 10 years to identify early signs of potential disease and uncover new ways to support healthy development and aging, disease prediction and prevention, individualized nutrition, and health monitoring.

What sets the MARS PETCARE BIOBANK apart from other pet biobanks is not only its scale – 20,000 dogs and cats – but also that it is open to all breed makeups and lifestyles. Existing pet biobanks often study certain species, breeds or diseases.

Dogs lead the way 

The study is now recruiting healthy dogs (older than six months and younger than 10 years old) already visiting select VCA Animal Hospitals™and BANFIELD™ Pet Hospital locations. The study will begin recruiting cats later this year.

Veterinary teams at participating Banfield and VCA hospitals will see pets for annual health checks and collect samples, such as fecal and blood. Once collected, samples will be analyzed by technicians at Antech Diagnostics and stored for future analysis by  scientists at the Waltham Petcare Science Institute.

Pet owners who enroll their eligible pets will receive an e-gift card after the first clinic visit and free annual routine veterinary check-ups, have annual blood samples reported via their veterinary teams, and receive a WHISTLE™ Fit activity monitor for dogs and a WISDOM PANEL™ DNA test kit for cats and dogs.

Any personal data collected as part of the study will be managed in accordance with the Mars Privacy Statement.

For more information about the MARS PETCARE BIOBANK and to apply to participate in this revolutionary study, visit Mars Pet Care Bio Bank.

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