2016, what a year, and we are only half way through!

Only seven and half months have passed by and this year already looks one of those years which will be remembered for a long time.

So many events have already left a big mark in our history and so many more events will do it during the next coming months. From politics to science, to sport, from human to veterinary health, there is so much to talk about that I could write pages and pages.

The exit of Great Britain from the EU and the U.S. Presidential elections will keep us all talking for a while. Tragic terrorist events have kept many countries on the alert and many innocent people have died. 

Juno, the NASA spacecraft, has finally reached Jupiter after almost five years.

The European Football cup and the summer Olympics have kept, and will keep, sports fans attention high for weeks.

2016 is the “International Year of Pulses”, a grain legume known for its high protein and nutritional content as well as being a hearty crop. This will hopefully make people more aware of having a healthy diet.

The 29th of February, apart from being a Leap Year, also marks the “Rare Disease Day”. One of the past themes for Rare Disease Day was "Patients and Researchers: Partners for Life".

2016 has also marked an important event for the health of our pets and has stressed the importance of the partnership between researchers and veterinary surgeons with their patients. Dermatology experts and scientists from all over the world met in Bordeaux, France, for almost a week at the end of May, to present and discuss the latest on the pathogenesis and treatment of various dermatological conditions in animals with the main focus being on dogs and cats skin and ear diseases. It was a very busy event with over 2,000 people attending the 8th World Congress of Veterinary Dermatology (WCVD8). It is organized every four years by the World Association of Veterinary Dermatology (WAVD), an association which has the goal “to promote the worldwide advancement of veterinary dermatology”.

There were many lectures presenting the state of the art or the latest research on genetic diseases, infectious diseases, therapeutics, ectoparasitoses, immune mediated diseases, neoplasia and otitis. There were practical wetlabs and workshops focusing on specific conditions or therapeutic approaches. A large number of free communications were presented too and colleagues had the opportunity to present their studies and findings on a variety of topics.

As a native Italian who works abroad I was proud to see how the effort and research done by Italian colleagues has been well recognized internationally in the veterinary dermatology field. Italians will not just be remembered for clothing designers, cars, food and wines, but also for some of the innovative and efficacious drugs which have been developed in the last few years. They have helped many of us in Europe to better resolve and prevent skin and ear infections in our pets and patients. 

The usefulness of antiseptics was highlighted in many lectures and among them, the ones given by USA speakers Luca Guardabassi and Doug DeBoer. They stressed how useful antiseptics could be in the management of canine superficial pyoderma. Nowadays we are asked to avoid using antibiotics for conditions which may be resolved very well by topical treatments with antiseptics like chlorhexidine. The presence on the veterinary market of products containing chlorhexidine 4% in various formulations (shampoo, spray, foam) like the one manufactured by Italian company ICF, are very useful and well received by pet owners who are becoming more and more aware of the need to limit antibiotic use.

The efficacy of topical therapy was also highlighted in an in vitro study done by the veterinary dermatology group at the University of Edinburgh who have found that chlorhexidine-TrizEDTA and climbazole impregnated wipes developed again by ICF, are a valid weapon in fighting various microorganisms, including those which are methicillin resistant, when compared to another commercially available similar product.

The most innovative approach however, presented at the WCVD8, was for the management of canine otitis with antimicrobial peptides.  The Italian Company ICF,  launched a new otic product “Peptivet Oto Gel” containing the synthetic antimicrobial peptide AMP2041 (ICF patent) in association with chlorhexidine and Tris-EDTA, which seems to be a very promising weapon in our daily fight against multi-resistant microorganisms including Pseudomonas aeruginosa. An in vitro and in vivo study done by a group of dermatologists and microbiologists in Italy has shown that this otic product has complete bactericidal activity against all tested microorganisms within 48hrs.

The AMP2041 antimicrobial peptide has a broad spectrum of action against bacteria, a synergistic effect with antiseptics and it is not harmful to human or animal cells. It works by binding to the bacterial and yeast membrane surface and producing holes, which lead to a reduction of the proton gradient, outpouring of molecules from the cytoplasm, inhibition of the ATP production and reduction of the metabolic process causing the microbial cell death.

Antimicrobial peptides will likely be the great innovation for the treatment of ear and skin infections in our pets. Prof Schwarz in his State of the Art lecture on “Bacterial resistance – where are we heading?” said that the future of antibacterial therapy is already here when he highlighted how ICF has led the market with the production of an antimicrobial peptide in a veterinary product. Currently the product is marketed in an otic, shampoo and foam version. Hopefully they will soon be available on the UK market and I am sure it will make a great difference in the way we will approach skin and ear infections in cats and dogs.

The usefulness of the antiseptic combination of chlorhexidine and tris-EDTA was also highlighted in the lecture on the successful management of relapsing otitis in dogs given by Dr Tim Nuttall. Tris-EDTA’s disruption of the biofilms and damage to bacteria cell walls, together with its synergism with chlorhexidine which helps to control the microbial population in ears, have been emphasized as a further way to reduce the use of topical antibiotics.

We are only half way through 2016 and I wonder what else the next months will hold for us in our various fields. Personally I am looking forward to using safe and effective products to control ear and skin infections without being worried that I am using too many antibiotics, which should be saved for serious life threatening conditions in pets and humans.

The next World Congress of Veterinary Dermatology will be in 2020 in Sydney, Australia and I am sure that by then we will hear more about these innovative Italian products containing synthetic antimicrobial peptides and more studies will be presented and published with the aim to improve small animal health!

Have a great Summer!