Over the course of 2016, Animal Pharm has been increasingly covering the use of next-generation technology in the veterinary medicines industry.
While the concepts of Big Data, wireless clinics, wearable sensors, stem cell research and bioinformatics are already widespread in human medicine, some trends creeping into animal health seem far more alien.
No matter how often Animal Pharm reports on the cloning of animals, the process of creating an exact replicate of a living being still seems a figment of science fiction.
In a move reminiscent of an Isaac Asimov novel or a George Lucas film, Chinese company Sinica last year signed an agreement to build a commercial animal cloning center in the northern port city of Tianjin.
The firm has aspirations to create up to one million cattle clones per year and is aiming to replicate dogs, and horses. Sinica also wants to delve into territories not dissimilar to Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park by introducing cloning for endangered and extinct animals.
Do androids dream of electric sheep?
The world’s most famous clone Dolly the sheep was born back in 1996 – a 20 anniversary this year – and since then, scientists have duplicated cattle, pigs and mice. Cloning has previously been limited to scientific research but now, businesses are beginning to show more interest in investing in cloning technology for commercial use, especially in the animal husbandry sector.
Unsurprisingly, cloning is a topic of great conjecture for many countries around the globe. In 2015, the US and Brazil voiced apprehension over EU proposals regarding animal cloning.
More recently, Dolly’s descendants made the news as a new paper published in Nature Communications said the first cloned sheep are in good health and ageing well. “Importantly, despite their advanced age (seven to nine years), none of the clones showed any clinical signs of disease,” the paper stated.
The aquaculture industry is also harnessing technology that pushes the boundaries of science fact.
A US non-profit company called Robots In Service of the Environment (RISE) has recently designed a method of controlling the spread of lionfish in ocean waters. The firm has designed a prototype robot that can operate remotely in deep water to locate and deliver a fatal electric shock to the invasive species.
Lionfish have devastated local fish populations in the North Atlantic. According to RISE, there are more than one million lionfish off the coasts of Florida, Bermuda and throughout the Caribbean – there have also been increasing sightings in the Mediterranean.
RISE said: “Ecosystems suffer as lionfish devour the small fish leaving nothing for the other marine animals to feed on.”
Aquaculture has recently seen another forward-thinking use of technology with the development of laser beam equipment to kill sea lice on salmon. The innovation was created by Norwegian Stingray Marine Solutions, whose name will bring a smile to the face of any childhood fans of Gerry Anderson’s marionette-based futuristic television programs.
It’s innovation Jim but not as we know it
In recent years, the veterinary profession has seen the introduction of advanced technology such as digital radiography and MRI scanners. However, there is technology on the market that delves deeper into the realms of science fiction.
QuantumVET is a tool – akin to the tricorder on Star Trek – designed to “instantly diagnose and treat your sick pet at home using only your smartphone”.
In marketing blurb that will sure to irk veterinarians, the Zurich Alpine Group (ZAG) claims its device should be “the first vet you visit”.
Some of the audacious claims of the advantages of using QuantumVET include: “Treats the underlying causes of your pet’s symptoms rather than the symptoms themselves”, “ends the taking of prescription medications and the problems associated with their use and administration” and “cures medical issues that have been previously treated symptomatically”.
ZAG also claims: “Chemical based medicines, and those that are naturally derived, will gradually be phased out due to their toxicity, expense, and lack of superior efficacy. In their place arrives a monumental quantum information technology based on quantum physics from which is derived a revolutionary medication delivery system that far exceeds the efficacy, potency and safety standards of present day pharmaceutical drugs.”
According to the ZAG website, the technology uses Portal Access Keys (PAKs) that are downloaded to the customer’s personal computer, smartphone or tablet.
Apparently, a PAK “has the ability to unlock a quantum portal developed by ZAG that allows bioinformation to flow from ZAG’s quantum computer directly to the neural network of your brain, also a quantum computer, via quantum teleportation. This quantum data delivers physiologic directives that program the brain to effect a medical solution.”
Unsurprisingly, Animal Pharm has yet to locate any sign of a governmental approval for this technology.
Either this innovation is real sci-fi or the traditional animal health industry is in serious jeopardy from quantum teleportation.