Altrugene is working to improve the lives of all animals and minimize the culling of wild animal populations.
A brief history
Altrugene was created in response to a question long deliberated within The Amber and Adam Tarshis Foundation -- how to humanely reduce unwanted animal populations at scale.
The company's initial focus was on better leveraging available immunocontraceptives like GonaCon and porcine zona pellucida (PZP) to minimize the culling of wild animal populations, which is frequently carried out by trapping and shooting.
GonaCon, while approved only for use on white tail deer, was demonstrated to reduce ovulation and estrus cycling on numerous other species including feral pigs, bison, wild horses, dogs, and California ground squirrels. Similar effects, through different mechanisms, were observed in vaccinated males as well.
Unfortunately, contraceptive effects last much longer in some species than others (1-4 years for white tailed deer, 8-16 months for dogs). This variation, as well as the need for booster shots in almost all cases, makes GonaCon (as well as PZP) less optimal for broad usage in reproductive control of large wild animal populations other than white tail deer.
A better solution is needed.
These are the problems with existing immunocontraceptives that Altrugene is working to solve:
Eliminate the need for multiple doses required to achieve optimal contraceptive effect
Extend the duration of the contraceptive effect
(Assuming #2 is achieved) Ensure the inhibition of reproductive processes can be reversed
While there are no known solutions to (2) and (3) at the moment, other organizations are making good progress that we believe will lead to long-lasting, reversible immunocontraceptives within the next 10 years.
We are working to ensure that when those therapies are available, there are delivery vectors that are safe, single dose, and scalable for large, wild animal populations.
Where we are today
Altrugene is currently working to develop the skills and techniques required to engineer viral vectors for the delivery of therapeutics. Current work involves the use of disarmed Adeno Associated Virus (AAV) to transfect fluorescent proteins (GFP) into select cell lines. Optimization of GFP production in infected cells will help inform the proper delivery mechanism for future therapeutics.
Subsequent efforts will involve the identification of targeted species-specific viral vectors that could be used to distribute future therapeutics throughout wild animal populations in a safe and controlled manner.