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Royal Canin Scientific News

Newsletter #1 - January 2021

Welcome to this new Royal Canin® Research and Development’s Newsletter! Its goal is to share information with you, veterinary specialists, or scientists, on a regular basis. This letter will take you through knowledge on recent developments in nutritional research, congress presentations, new nutritional solutions… and beyond, or even sometimes to job opportunities at Royal Canin®. We hope that you will enjoy reading this letter and find it contains valuable insights for your daily practice or general knowledge, and we welcome your feedback and questions with great pleasure.

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Congress Highlights

Newest information on interesting congresses lectures & posters related to works Royal Canin® lead or collaborated to

1. Congress of the European College of Veterinary Internal Medicine - Companion Animals, September 2020 (online)

Sharing results of collaborative research between Royal Canin and The Royal Canin Weight Management Clinic at The University of Liverpool, Professor Alex German presented two abstracts at the virtual ECVIM-CA congress.

A non-randomised observational cohort study aimed to determine changes in plasma amino acid concentrations in cats with obesity during a period of caloric restriction (1).

ECVIM-CA  online congress september 2020

A non-randomised observational cohort study aimed to determine changes in plasma amino acid concentrations in cats with obesity during a period of caloric restriction (1).

 Eleven systemically well cats followed a tailored weight reduction programme, involving feeding a high protein, high fibre therapeutic weight management diet and increased physical activity. Before and after weight reduction, blood was taken after a fast of ≥16h for routine clinicopathological analyses and measurement of plasma concentrations of 16 amino acids and taurine. Concentrations of cysteine and methionine were not measured due to known sensitivities with storage.

Cats remained healthy throughout the weight reduction period, with median weight loss of 23% starting weight over a median period of 254 days. Sample storage time was associated with a significant increase in plasma glutamate concentration, and significant decreases in plasma glutamine and histidine concentrations. There were no significant changes in plasma concentrations of any amino acid after weight reduction. Most plasma glutamine and glutamate concentrations were above or below reference intervals, respectively, both before and after weight loss. Occasional results were outside reference intervals for glycine, histidine, proline, and serine both before and after weight reduction. For the rest of the amino acids, concentrations were within reference intervals at both time points. These results suggest that most observed changes in plasma amino acid concentration were probably due to the effects of prolonged sample storage and were therefore a sampling artifact.

A retrospective observational study was conducted to estimate post-weight reduction maintenance energy requirements (MER) in a group of pet cats with obesity that had successfully lost weight and whose weight remained stable during the subsequent weight maintenance phase (2).

Cats for which at least 2 months of follow-up data (including bodyweight and food intake via owners’ diary records) were available and weight remained stable during the weight maintenance period were included in the study. Post-weight-loss MER was indirectly estimated from records of dietary energy intake during this stable weight period.

Using simple and multiple linear regression, the only factor that was significantly associated with MER during the maintenance period was the mean energy intake during weight reduction. Maintenance energy requirements after weight reduction in cats with obesity, are typically only 20% greater than energy intake at the end of the weight reduction period, and not significantly different from energy intake at the start of weight reduction. As a result, it is advisable to feed cats a diet with a relatively low energy density during the weight maintenance phase.

 2. Congress of the European Society of Veterinary & Comparative Nutrition, September 2020 (online)

 

At the virtual ESVCN Congress, the results of a study which aimed to identify differences in gene expression in adipose tissue in young Beagle dogs (some of whom developed obesity in adulthood) were presented (2).

ESCVN congress September 2020

Twenty-four female Beagle dogs were raised in the same kennel environment and fed the same diet ad libitum. The dogs were sterilized at 8 months of age, at which time subcutaneous and visceral adipose tissue samples were collected. The mRNA levels of genes involved in lipolysis (perilipin, HSL, LPL), lipogenesis (ACC, ADRP, CPT1, FAS, FABP), adipogenesis (PPARγ, SREBP-1c), thermogenesis (UCP1, UCP2), glucose uptake (GLUT4) and insulin sensitivity (adiponectin, IRS2) were estimated by real time RT-PCR. At 24 months of age, the dogs were assigned a posteriori to 2 groups according to their body condition score: ideal weight (n = 13) and overweight (n = 9). Gene expression levels in the 2 groups were calculated and compared.

No significant difference in BCS at 8 months of age was detected. Four of the genes examined were expressed at significantly lower levels in the visceral adipose tissue of dogs in the overweight compared to the ideal weight group: LPL, FABP, PPARγ, and GLUT4. Differences in gene expression were not observed in subcutaneous adipose tissue. For the first time, this study shows a difference in gene expression in visceral adipose tissue of puppies that could potentially be linked to their disposition to develop obesity in adulthood when fed ad libitum.

 

References

(1) German A.J., Yu J.Z., Woods G.R.T., Flanagan J., Biourge V., Fascetti A. Plasma amino acid and taurine concentrations in cats with obesity before and after a period of controlled weight reduction. ECVIM-CA Congress, September 2020.
(2) German A.J., Woods G.R.T., Flanagan J., Biourge V. Maintenance energy requirements of cats with obesity after a period of controlled weight reduction . ECVIM-CA Congress, September 2020.
(3) Flanagan J., Leclerc L., Leray V., Nguyen P. Differences in gene expression in visceral adipose tissue of young Beagle dogs is associated with adult obesity. ESVCN Congress, September 2020.

 3. Congress of the British Small Animal Veterinary Association, march 2020 (online)

 

BSAVA congress 2020

Two studies investigated the effect of potassium chloride (KCl) on different urinary parameters in dogs and cats and were presented in the 2020 edition of the BSAVA congress (1), (2). The objective of the first study was to investigate the effect of KCl on urine dilution and calcium oxalate (CaOx) relative supersaturation (RSS).

One base formula was supplemented with KCl to reach [K+] of 1.56, 3.35 and 4.62 g/Mcal. Nine cats and 5 dogs were fed each diet for 10 days. Increasing KCl leads to increased urine volume and decreased USG and CaOx RSS in both dogs and cats. The second study aimed to evaluate the efficacy of increased dietary KCl compared to sodium chloride (NaCl) on CaOx RSS in healthy dogs and cats. Two dry extruded maintenance diets differing only in KCl and NaCl were each fed to 11 cats and 15 dogs for 7 days, followed by 3 days of urine collection. Contents of sodium, potassium and chloride were 2.8, 1.3 and 4.0 g/Mcal respectively in diet A, and 1.0, 3.6 and 3.2 g/Mcal in diet B. For both dogs and cats, mean differences in CaOx RSS between diets were not significant. The results of this study indicate that dietary KCl is as good as NaCl to decrease CaOx RSS, and can be used as a strategy to reduce crystallization risk in patients where sodium restriction is sought.

The effect of potassium chloride

In the area of Dermatology, a clinical study was presented at BSAVA Congress (3), around non-flea, non-food-induced hyper-sensitivity dermatitis (NFNFiHD), an issue which represents up to 20% of pruritic cats (4).

The European multicenter prospective clinical trial had been initiated to evaluate the benefits of a new nutritional solution formulated* to improve skin and coat health in neutered cats suffering from this chronic skin issue.

A significant decrease of average scores for pruritus and lesions (PVAS, SCORFAD) was seen after 4weeks, and improvement was maintained till study completion (8weeks). Palatability of the food was assessed as good by cat owners, and these neutered cats maintained their body weight.

This pilot trial suggests that Nutrition can constitute an efficient tool within the overall multimodal management of feline NFNFiHD.

* dry food including ω3 fatty acids, γ-linoleic acid, and nutrients to help support skin barrier.

improve skin and coat health in neutered cats

 4. World Congress of Veterinary Dermatology (WCVD9), October 2020 (online)

 

The World Congress of Veterinary Dermatology 2020 was switched from Sydney to an online event, with lectures available for attendees for 6months onwards, i.e. until Spring 2021. More than 2500 attendees have already accessed lectures and benefited from a brand-new experience, including wandering in virtual 3D booths in exhibition room, even able to ask question to avatars.

WCVD 2020

Royal Canin held a symposium, with 2 internationally renowned speakers reviewing scientific evidence on Adverse Food Reactions, and myth-busting, through the lens of all published Critically Appraised Topics (9 to date).

The whole series of papers is available via open access here.

They are tremendous myth-busters, on practical questions such as ideal duration for elimination trials, scientific relevance of AFR ‘diagnostic tests’, age of onset of food allergy, cutaneous and non-cutaneous signs…

Royal Canin symposium 2020

A poster (5) shared the key outcomes of a european multicenter prospective blinded trial, which was performed to assess the diagnostic efficacy of an extensively hydrolyzed protein-based food in cats (Anallergenic felineTM, Royal Canin®).

efficacy of hydrolyzed protein-based food in cats

34 adult cats with suspected cAFR were enrolled into the study, and ten completed both elimination and re-challenge phases. The test food was well tolerated and accepted in the included cat population.

Cats who improved during the 8 week-elimination phase and also experienced clinical worsening during re-challenge phase (such as Legolas, see extracted figure) were diagnosed as cAFR cases.

This pilot study showed this food may constitute a valuable tool for feline cAFR diagnosis.

LEGOLAS test diet and flare on re-challenge

References

(1) Bijsmans E., Biourge V., Quéau Y. The effect of increasing levels of potassium chloride on urine specific gravity, urine volume, and relative supersaturation in dogs and cats. BSAVA congress proceedings, Birmingham/online, April 2020
(2) Bijsmans E., Quéau Y., Biourge V. The efficacy of potassium chloride in decreasing calcium oxalate relative supersaturation in dogs and cats. BSAVA congress proceedings, Birmingham/online, April 2020

(3) Lesponne I, Boutigny L et al. Nutritionally-based improvement of cats’ skin & coat Health, in Non-Flea, Non-Food-Induced Hypersensitive Dermatitis. BSAVA congress proceedings, Birmingham/online, April 2020
(4) Hobi S, Linek M et al. Clinical characteristics and causes of pruritus in cats: a multicentre study on feline hypersensitivity associated dermatoses. Veterinary Dermatology, 2011; 22, 406–413 https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-3164.2011.00962.x

(5) Mayer U, Bergvall K et al. Efficacy of an extensively hydrolyzed protein-based food for the diagnosis of feline cutaneous adverse food reactions. WCVD proceedings abstract, Sydney/online, October 2020

News from R&D

Highlights of Royal Canin®’s newest research, with selected topics from key recent publications and findings

 1. In Urinary area

 

Sodium safety in diets is a concern for many veterinarians, especially when related to diets designed to manage urinary tract diseases. Six studies looking at the effect of increased dietary sodium on the progression of renal disease in dogs and cats with model or natural renal diseases failed to find any link 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6,. Questions are sometimes raised regarding the safety of high sodium diets to manage dogs with calcium oxalate stones as there is a belief some of them could also have heart disease. Actually, this comorbidity is rare, as shown in a study looking at 1074 dogs affected by calcium oxalate stones. This study found that only 13 of these dogs also had heart disease, corresponding to 1.2 %7. In addition, studies have proven that an increase in dietary sodium did not affect blood pressure in either healthy dogs and cats or ones partially nephrectomized1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 10. Lastly, increased dietary sodium has been used for decades to promote urine dilution in dogs and cats, with no demonstrated detrimental health effects. To conclude, as many studies have demonstrated its safety, high sodium diets can be used with confidence in veterinary prescription diets.

 

References

(1) Buranakarl C, Mathur SS, Brown SA. Effects of dietary sodium chloride intake on renal function and blood pressure in cats with normal and reduced renal function. Am J Vet Res 2004; 65:620-7
(2) Cowgill LD, Sergev G, Bandt C et al. Effects of dietary salt intake on body fluid volume and renal function in healthy cats. J Vet Intern med 2007; 21:600 (abst 104) Greco DS, Lees GE, Dzendel G, Carter AB. Effect of dietary sodium intake on glomerular filtration rate in partially nephrectomized dogs. Am J Vet Res 1994; 55:152-9
(3) Hughes KL, Slater MR, Geller S, Burkholder WJ, Fitzgerald C. Diet and lifestyle variables as risk factors for chronic renal failure in pet cats. Prev Vet Med. 2002; 55(1):1-15
(4) Reynolds BS, Chetboul V, Nguyen P, Testault I, Concordet DV, Carlos Sampedrano C, Elliott J, Trehiou-Sechi E, Abadie J, Biourge V, Lefebvre HP. Effects of Dietary Salt Intake on Renal Function: A 2-Year Study in Healthy Aged Cats. J Vet Intern Med 2013; 27(3): 507-515
(5) Xu H, Laflamme DP, Riboul C et al High sodium has no adverse effects on blood pressure or renal function in healthy cats. JFMS 2009, 11,435-441
(6) Lekcharoensuk C, Osborne CA, Lulich JP, Pusoonthornthum R, Kirk CA, Ulrich LK, Koehler LA, Carpenter KA, Swanson LL. Associations between dry dietary factors and canine calcium oxalate uroliths. Am J Vet Res. 2002 Mar;63(3):330-7
(7) Chetboul V., Reynolds B.S., Trehiou-Sechi E., Nguyen P., Concordet D., Sampedrano C.C., Testault I., Elliott J., Abadie J., Biourge V., Lefebvre H.P. Cardiovascular effects of dietary salt intake in aged healthy cats: a 2-year prospective randomized, blinded, and controlled study. PLOS one 2014; 9 (6)
(8) Luckschander N, Iben C, Hosgood G, et al. Dietary NaCl does not affect blood pressure in healthy cats. J Vet Intern Med 2004; 18(4): 463-7.
(9) Kirk CA, Jewell DE, Lowry SR. Effects of sodium chloride on selected parameters in cats. Vet Ther 2006; 7(4): 333-46

 2. In Dermatology

 

A recently published study (1) showed that the duration of elimination trials in dogs suspected of cAFR can be shortened to 4weeks, instead of the recommended 6 to 8 week period (2). The field study, the key outcomes of which were previously shared during the ESVD-ECVD 2019 congress in Liverpool (3), involved 53 dogs fed an extensively hydrolyzed protein-based diet (Anallergenic canineTM, Royal Canin®) during the first phase, and receiving prednisolone for at least two weeks. Cases where improvement was noted during the first phase, and worsening during the second phase (re-challenge), were diagnosed as suffering from cAFR.

Knowing that, even nowadays, veterinarians sometimes still face issues in achieving full adherence or compliance from pet owners to perform strict elimination trials, this new possibility to shorten the duration of the elimination phase may prove useful, to help get more correct diagnoses of food allergic dogs, hence better management and expected clinical outcomes.

 

References

(1) Favrot C, Bizikova P et al. The usefulness of short-course prednisolone during the initial phase of an elimination diet trial in dogs with food-induced atopic dermatitis. Veterinary Dermatology, 2019; 30,6, 498-e149 https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/vde.12793 
(2)Olivry T, Mueller R.S. & Prélaud P. Critically appraised topic on adverse food reactions of companion animals (1): duration of elimination diets. BMC Vet Res 11, 225 (2015) https://rdcu.be/b8oVq
(3) Favrot C, Bizikova P et al. An alternative to long-lasting elimination diet to diagnose food allergies in dogs with atopic dermatitis. ESVD-ECVD Congress, Liverpool, September 2019

 3. Individualised Nutrition 

 

Royal Canin® Individualis is a nutritional answer to each pet's specific needs, thanks to a tailored nutrition program based on a veterinary diagnosis and on a patented algorithm developed by nutrition experts. It is an individualized nutritional program to help support pets’ health with a personalized service to help pets live their best lives and simplify that of their owners.

The history of the project

The ROYAL CANIN® INDIVIDUALIS® project began 10 years ago and is based in the knowledge that each pet is unique, and so are their nutritional needs. Moreover, with the new digital landscape veterinarians are facing, there is a need for nutritional alternatives combining digitalization with a platform to showcase expertise. It has taken seven years of research that involved associates across R&D, engineering and marketing in collaboration with mathematicians, digital teams, software providers and three years of testing in over 100 veterinary clinics.

The pain points we want to address

Based on the nutrition available today, when veterinarians make a nutritional recommendation, they are often obliged to prioritize the nutritional management of one condition over other risk factors or characteristics that would also benefit from specialized nutrition.

How does it work?

This new offer is based on the veterinarian's assessment of the pet's characteristics, including age, weight, breed, lifestyle, risk factors and medical conditions and uses an algorithm powered by Royal Canin® to accurately determine an individualized nutritional program. The online platform allows the veterinarian to communicate the recommendation to the pet owner for personalized convenient home delivery. The program offers a dedicated customer care line for individualized service.

 

Going beyond Nutrition!

An introduction to Royal Canin®’s reach into other areas of animal welfare and improvements in diagnostic and disease follow-up and management tools.

• RenalTech™ (in North America)

Chronic kidney disease is a frequent cause of death in cats >5 years of age. Despite the availability of new biomarkers, early detection of decreased functioning renal mass remains challenging, since the relationship between glomerular filtration rate (GFR) and surrogate markers of GFR is exponential (when GFR decreases from normal, the change in plasma concentration of the surrogate marker is small), and the adaptation of remaining functioning nephrons tends to limit the decrease in total kidney GFR. Techniques dependent on artificial intelligence can be efficient in predicting a large variety of outcomes, especially in the field of medicine.

Artificial neural networks (ANN) in particular, have great capacity for prediction of complex and nonlinear processes coupled with ease and flexibility of implementation.

RenalTech is an innovative service proposed by Antech Diagnostics which, based on an algorithm developed by artificial intelligence, predicts the risk for an adult cat to develop chronic kidney disease within 24 months. The algorithm has been developed by analyzing more than 20 years of clinical data, representing more than 100 thousand cats. Based on 2 visits (3–6 months apart) and using common demographic data and blood and urine parameters (age, BUN, creatinine and USG), it can predict whether a cat is at risk of developing CKD within the next 24 months with a specificity of 99% (1). Based on the result of this test (negative, positive or inconclusive), the veterinarian can set up a tailored health plan.

 

• Renal Detect (in countries out of North America, throughout Vet Services)

Chronic kidney disease is a frequent cause of death in cats >5 years of age, which is the reason why routine annual health screening assessing kidney function should be common practice for senior cats. However, and despite the availability of new biomarkers, early detection of decreased functioning renal mass remains challenging, since the relationship between glomerular filtration rate (GFR) and surrogate markers of GFR is exponential (when GFR decreases from normal, the change in plasma concentration of the surrogate marker is small), and the adaptation of remaining functioning nephrons tends to limit the decrease in total kidney GFR. Techniques dependent on artificial intelligence can be efficient in predicting a large variety of outcomes, especially in the field of medicine.

Artificial neural networks (ANN) in particular have great capacity for prediction of complex and nonlinear processes coupled with ease and flexibility of implementation.

Renal Detect is an innovative service proposed by Royal Canin® through its Vet Services platform which, based on an algorithm developed by artificial intelligence, predicts the risk for a senior cat (≥ 7 years) to develop chronic kidney disease within 1 year. The algorithm has been developed by analyzing more than 20 years of clinical data, representing more than 3,700 cats. Based on a single visit and using common blood and urine parameters (urea, creatinine and USG), it can predict whether a cat is at risk of developing CKD within the next 12 months with an accuracy of 88% (2). Based on the result of this test (negative or positive), the veterinarian can set up a tailored health plan, including appropriate monitoring and nutrition.

 

References

(1) Bradley R & al. Predicting early risk of chronic kidney disease in cats using routine clinical laboratory tests and machine learning . J Vet Intern Med. 2019;1–13; DOI: 10.1111/jvim.15623

(2) Biourge, V, Delmotte, S, Feugier, A, Bradley, R, McAllister, M, Elliott, J. An artificial neural network‐based model to predict chronic kidney disease in aged cats. J Vet Intern Med. 2020; 1– 12. https://doi.org/10.1111/jvim.15892

Featured R&D specialist

Personal interviews with Royal Canin®’s research and development specialists.

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Dr. Biourge

At the heart of Royal Canin®’s nutritional Research and Development is Dr. Vincent Biourge. Dr. Biourge graduated from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Liège (Belgium) in 1985. He stayed on as an assistant in the Nutrition Department for two more years before moving to the Veterinary Hospital of University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, USA) and later to the Teaching Hospital of the University of California (Davis, USA) as a PhD /resident in Clinical nutrition. In 1993, he got his PhD in Nutrition from the University of California and became a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Nutrition. In 1994, Dr. Biourge returned to Europe, where he joined the Research Center of Royal Canin® in Aimargues (France), in charge of Scientific Communication and Nutrition. From 1999 to 2007, Dr. Biourge led the nutritional research programs of Royal Canin®. In January 2008, he was appointed as the Health & Nutrition Scientific Director, which is his current role. He is the author or co-author of more than 120 scientific papers and several book chapters and was the editor of two clinical nutrition books. He has been invited to speak at veterinary and medical forums worldwide. Since Dr. Biourge plays an integral role in directing and advising associates in everything from innovation to product deployment, his time, these days, is highly sought after, but we recently had the opportunity to sit down with him to find out about his experiences at Royal Canin® and beyond. Join us to discover the highlights of this interview!

1. On a personal level, what is the most rewarding aspect of your work at Royal Canin®?

For me the most rewarding aspect is the people at Royal Canin®. I have had the opportunity to work with many smart, passionate and nice people.  I started with the company at a difficult time. We were late in launching our premium diets. With a small R&D team, we were able to overcome this challenge and contributed to make Royal Canin® a worldwide pet food leader. I also very much appreciated working with our senior managers. They were very demanding but supportive and encouraged us to take risks.

During my job interview in 1994, I was asked by senior leaders what would be my recommendation for the future of Royal Canin®. I said feline nutrition, the pet of the future. They answered, in Royal Canin® there is “Canin” like in dog! Six months later, however, I was asked to train the French commercial team on feline nutrition. I also tried to convince the French commercial director on the interest of veterinary therapeutic diets. He did not believe in it. There was initial reluctance but over time people were able to adapt and change their minds.

Another aspect on my career at Royal Canin® is the opportunity to travel the world and continue to go to American Veterinary Congresses. This allowed me to create a large and wonderful network of scientists, many of whom are now friends.

 

2. How do you think nutritional education and philosophy has evolved since you were trained as a veterinarian?

It has changed dramatically! In 1985, when I graduated, pet nutrition was low priority in veterinary curriculum. There was no teaching in feline nutrition and in dogs we were just told to give one to two meals per day consisting of – 1/3 meat, 1/3 rice, and 1/3 vegetables. Therapeutic veterinary diets did not exist in Europe. Nutrition was not taken seriously by the veterinary profession.  There were only a few groups with an interest in Pet nutrition around the World, for example at the veterinary school of Alfort (Paris) and Hannover (Germany). There were 2 very active groups in canine nutrition at the University of Illinois and in feline nutrition at Davis (California). Most of what we now about pet nutritional requirements comes from those 2 institutions.

 Nutritional deficiencies did occur, and many dogs had a poor haircoat. There were cases of ‘greenstick fractures’ from calcium deficiency.  I remember one specific case of 2 lion cubs fed only with chicken breast. 

Now, pet nutrition is taken seriously. It is an important part of the veterinary curriculum and continuing education. It even became a veterinary specialty. Its role on health and quality of life is recognized.Therapeutic diets have a significant role in the management of disease.   

 

3. What do you think is the biggest challenge that faces Royal Canin®, and the pet food industry in general, in the delivery of exceptional nutrition to pets?

As a large global enterprise, we have strengths like finance to support our investments and our research, a worldwide distribution chain, resilience in case of crisis, and the ability to attract the best talents. We have also weaknesses, one of them being less agile. It is easy to understand that you can change direction faster with a zodiac than a passenger boat. Don’t take me wrong, those processes and the exchange with our stakeholders are indispensable in a large multinational company but we just make sure that they are bringing value and have as minimal negative impacts on our development as possible.

Another of our challenge may seem to be keeping the Royal Canin® spirit: the team before the individual, and the passion for the pets. The worst thing that could happen to us would be to work in silos and limit exchanges. Our successes have always been the results of active collaboration between people with diverse expertise.

Likely our most important challenge may be preserving our image with pet owners, breeders and veterinarians alike. It took more than 50 years to build and we could lose it overnight. This highlights the importance of our quality processes and communication in a time when a pet owner from the middle of nowhere can share one issue he might have with one of our products with the entire world.

 

4. Of course, you have been involved with numerous Royal Canin® projects since joining the company.  What innovation makes you most proud? 

It might sound strange but for me it is our feline neutered range.  When it was launched in 1998, this category did not exist. Now this category is present everywhere around the world and it has been introduced in canine products. With the size and breed ranges, it really illustrates the vision and the leadership of Royal Canin®.  It is probably the innovation that affected the largest number of pets.

 

5. What recent ‘Beyond Nutrition’ innovation do you think has been most important in improving quality of life in the animals we serve?

For me the addition of Renal detect.   Renal Detect is a tool that uses artificial intelligence to predicts if a cat is at risk of suffering from renal disease within the ensuing 12 months.  It will help veterinarians to recommend senior health panels, which can be a challenge, and promote early detection of diseases.  As renal disease is common, it will really affect quality of life and longevity of cats.

 

6. You have been there through the development of Royal Canin® from a small French brand to a global nutritional powerhouse… what aspect of its research and development culture do you think has been most integral in driving its success?

First, we have passionate associates.  Since I joined Royal Canin® I have only known associates who were proud of improving pet’s quality of life. This is not only at the headquarters but also in our plants and subsidiaries.  We also have had very charismatic leaders, who have shared their vision, understood products, and who respected and listened to their associates but were stubborn after making up their minds on what direction to take.  Illustrations of this were the decisions to go into feline nutrition or to launch a complete line of veterinary therapeutic diets. None of them were in the Royal Canin® culture at the time.  Those charismatic leaders are essential to bring people to excel in a new challenging mission.  We also have a culture of risk. Allowing people to take risks and possibly fail means we can also generate innovative and disruptive solutions.   Finally, at Royal Canin®, we work without blinkers.  We encourage our associates to question how things are done. Just because something is common knowledge does not guarantee that it is true.

 

7. What made you so passionate about animal nutrition?

It's really two reasons: one, nutrition is a relatively young science and two, because of the many interactions it has with other fields of science and medicine, making it fun to investigate and collaborate.  When I finished veterinary school, I wanted to go into molecular biology, but I would have been one in a million. In pet nutrition I am one in 80 or 100 active scientists around the world. It is much easier to make a significant contribution.   There are still plenty of opportunities to make a discovery.

 

8. You have an immense amount of training in multiple institutions and in many educational cultures.  How do you think that the diversity of your educational and working experience has influenced your approach mentoring? 

I do think that my diverse training has made me more open to new ideas and cultures.  All my mentors were leaders in their field, approachable, supportive and happy to see me succeed. I really like to act accordingly with our junior associates.  My experience is that the most knowledgeable people are, the most modest and open.

 

9. How would you describe your approach to innovation and developing innovation pipelines?

Many innovation targets improvement of our dietary solutions. To achieve this, we review available information, discuss with internal and external stakeholders and make propositions to the development team.  Sometimes, we want to be disruptive, we want to develop a new solution to cater to newly identified needs, this can be triggered by our own our external research, new scientific information or new diagnostic test. It is always the results of a teamwork. It's like a melting pot and suddenly good ideas pop out and a completely new product or product range is born. To reach maturity, it will need several validations.

 

10. How do you think the global Coronavirus pandemic will affect animal health care moving forward and the pet food industry specifically?

I do not believe that it (the Coronavirus pandemic) will affect the industry negatively. Certainly, it is a period of crisis, but people do not deprive their pets, increasingly viewed as a full member of the family.   Moreover, over those past few months more pets were acquired to fight loneliness or be closer to nature.  The more time people spend with their pets, the more they value them.  I think that we are lucky to work in a company that contributes to the well-being of people and pets.

 

Career Opportunities

Discover our Senior Scientific job offer:

Senior Scientist

 

Potential other offers will be shared in future newsletters.