Lanarkshire-based biotech business ILC Therapeutics has signed a research and development partnership with veterinary group Dechra Pharmaceuticals.

The deal will see Dechra develop ILC’s Caniferon product to treat atopic dermatitis in dogs.

Atopic dermatitis is the most common form of eczema affecting humans and canines, with the global canine market for atopic dermatitis estimated to exceed $1bn.

Dechra’s expertise is in the development, manufacture, marketing and sales of veterinary endocrinology and topical dermatology products worldwide.

Alan Walker, chief executive of ILC Therapeutics, said: “While ILC’s main focus to date has been around human health, the partnership with Dechra is a validation of our technology and the potential to develop products in the animal health market.

“The industry as a whole has experienced a pandemic-driven increase in pet ownership and pet care, and we see considerable growth prospects for the product.”

Dechra’s chief executive Ian Page added: “We are pleased to enter into this research agreement in a therapeutic sector of the market which is a key area of focus for Dechra.

“Although at a relatively early stage of research, we see real possibilities for the technology to lead to a full development programme to add to our exciting pipeline.”

Alfacyte, ILC Therapeutics’ lead hybrid interferon drug, is currently in development as an anti-viral medicine for the treatment of upper respiratory tract viral infections including SARS-CoV-2; which causes Covid-19.