KANSAS CITY, Kan. and BOSTON, Oct. 14, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Aratana Therapeutics, Inc. (Nasdaq: PETX), a biopharmaceutical company focused on the licensing, development and commercialization of innovative medications for pets (pet therapeutics), today announced that it has entered into a merger agreement providing for the strategic acquisition of Vet Therapeutics, Inc., a San Diego-based company with a proprietary antibody-based biologics platform. Under the agreement, Aratana plans to continue to advance the pipeline of high value biologic drugs, including its lymphoma franchise. Importantly, the acquisition of Vet Therapeutics is expected to significantly accelerate Aratana's pathway toward becoming a commercial-stage pet therapeutics company. Vet Therapeutics' canine antibody product intended as an aid for the treatment of canine T-cell lymphoma in dogs has been submitted to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for review. The company's canine monoclonal antibody intended as an aid for the treatment of B-cell lymphoma in dogs has been granted a conditional license by the USDA. The product is commercialized under a distribution agreement with a large animal health company in certain territories. Beyond these products, Vet Therapeutics' current pipeline includes biologics for the treatment of other cancers, atopic dermatitis and other immune conditions. After the closing of the acquisition, Genevieve Hansen, Ph.D., founder, President and Chief Scientific Officer of Vet Therapeutics, is expected to become Aratana's Head of Biologics, and continue to manage Vet Therapeutics, Inc. as a wholly owned subsidiary of Aratana. Lymphoma is the most common blood cancer in dogs, accounting for an estimated 6% of total dog cancers. With more than 150,000 dogs treated with standard of care chemotherapy per year, it is also the most treated dog cancer in the United States, with treatment costs ranging between $3,500 and $10,000. Vet Therapeutics' canine-specific monoclonal antibodies for B-cell and T-cell diseases are first-in-class biologic product candidates that have shown potent activity in studies against validated cancer targets. Steven St. Peter, M.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Aratana Therapeutics, stated, "Biologics represent an extremely promising new frontier for treating important diseases in pets. We are proud to be expanding our leadership in pet therapeutics by acquiring a leader in pet biologics development, Vet Therapeutics, and expect to offer an even more robust, complementary pet therapeutics pipeline. We are particularly excited about the lead B-cell lymphoma product, as we strongly believe a canine-specific antibody therapy could achieve the same therapeutic success in dogs that Genentech's Rituxan® has achieved in human lymphoma. After the closing, we look forward to continuing to work with Vet Therapeutics' large animal health collaborator in bringing canine specific versions of some of the most innovative molecules in biotech for the treatment of Lymphoma to these members of our family." "Beyond the product candidates already in development, we believe that the addition of an internal development platform and manufacturing capability for biologics represents an attractive growth opportunity for Aratana that is characterized by fast-to-market, targeted therapies. We view biologics as a valuable complement to our in-licensing strategy for small molecules."