ACC&D Scientific Think Tanks
ACC&D Think Tanks convene multi-disciplinary groups to focus on specific opportunities for advancing our mission. Topics include areas of science with potential to lead to non-surgical sterilants, as well as related areas of research that need to be advanced for future sterilant technologies to be used most effectively and efficiently. Results of past think tanks offer innovative ideas into research directions and next steps for advancing these areas. Please see brief descriptions below and link to pdf files for outcomes and details about participants. (Note: pdf files are best linked with a browser that is not Google Chrome)

Identifying & Prioritizing Marking Methods for Non-Surgically Sterilized Cats & Dogs
May 16-18, 2013 - Phoenix,  AZ U.S.

This Think Tank explored potential new and/or improved methods for marking dogs and cats, particularly free-roaming populations, who have been treated with a non-surgical permanent sterilant or long-term contraceptive. This addresses the question about how animals treated non-surgically will be recognized if there is no physically visible indicator(s) of treatment, and how additional important information (such as expiration date of a temporary contraceptive) will be easily conveyed.

Preparation included a complete review of methods used in animals, and crowdsourcing via an Innocentive Challenge to reach the global community and elicit novel solutions in advance. 15 experts were convened, representing diverse fields: wildlife biology, reproductive biology, software and database design, animal identification technologies, animal handling, and free-roaming cat and dog populations. An InnoCentive winner and runner-up, and experts in invention and innovation were also involved as participants and facilitators.

There was consensus on initiating a project to explore optimized methods of ear tags, with and without advanced options for external RFID. ACC&D is currently working to further develop that project. More details about the process, thinking and outcomes of this project are contained in the main report and its appendices.

-Think Tank Report on Identifying & Prioritizing Marking Methods for Non-Surgically Sterilized Cats & Dogs
-Participant Biographies

-Methods of Identification for Dogs and Cats (literature review)          

We also invite you to access presentations and resources on this topic from ACC&D's 5th International Symposium on Non-Surgical Methods of Pet Population Control (June 2013). Please view the session "Already sterilized or not? Methods of marking animals," available through this wepage.  

Thank you to PetSmart Charities for sponsoring this Think Tank     

Controlled Release for Depot and Implant Technologies, as it Applies to Developing Non-Surgical Alternatives to Sterilize Cats and Dogs
April 17-19, 2012, Los Angeles, California, U.S.

A key question facing those working to develop long-acting contraceptives and non-surgical sterilants for cats and dogs is whether technologies exist that would allow delivery of an existing or future agent over an extended period of time, or in multiple discrete doses, with a single treatment. ACC&D convened this think tank, with support from the Found Animals Foundation (FAF), to discuss the potential of depot and implant technologies to control the delivery of chemical, immunological, or biological agents in the search for a non-surgical sterilant for cats and dogs.

Experts in drug delivery, precision manufacturing, FDA regulatory procedures, and dog and cat reproductive biology were brought together with the aim of arriving at an understanding of the state of the art in the areas of controlled release, to discuss how these technologies might be used to deliver potential non-surgical sterilants, and to gain insight into future technologies on the horizon.

“One of the most important knowledge gaps in companion animal non-surgical contraception is not the absence of drug or vaccine antigen candidates but rather how to best optimize delivery of these lead candidates to the animal in a manner that is safe and efficacious.  This ACC&D scientific think tank meeting summary does a great job of identifying current and next generation delivery technologies that could be leveraged to close this knowledge gap”.
-Think Tank report reviewer David A. Brake, PhD, Founder and Principal, BioQuest Associates, LLC

-Think Tank Report on Controlled Release for Depot and Implant Technologies
-Participant Biographies

Thank you to the Found Animals Foundation and the Animal Assistance Foundation for sponsoring this event!

Population Dynamics Modeling and Field Studies to Improve Development of Technologies for Non-surgical Sterilization of Cats and Dogs
June 8-10, 2011, Upperville, Virginia, U.S.

Today, most animal birth control programs proceed without first defining a clear, measurable population goal, and without good estimates of the intensity, scope, and duration of effort required to achieve this goal. The wildlife biology community, however, utilizes advanced simulation modeling tools and are able to translate the outcomes into practical field applications. Use of such models for cat and dog populations could allow us to better design and measure progress of dog and cat population control programs. Computer simulation models can be designed to capture the contingent cause-and-effect feedback loops (such as density-dependence) that exist in complex, real-world systems.

ACC&D convened 16 experts for this Think Tank to investigate how computer modeling and field studies adapted from wildlife biology could be applied to cat and dog population management design. A project plan was created by participants. This work was discussed at a NIMBioS meeting in November, 2011. The project plan developed from ACC&D's Think Tank focuses first on creating a model for free-roaming cat populations in which different surgical (and later non-surgical) interventions can be assessed for impact on population. In December, 2011, ACC&D was awarded a generous grant by the ASPCA to fund the development of this initial model.

-Think Tank Report on Populations Dynamics Modeling and Field Studies to Improve Development of Technologies for Non-surgical Sterilization of Cats and Dogs (pdf) 

-Participant Biographies (pdf)
-Press Release: ASPCA® Grants Funds to the Alliance for Contraception in Cats & Dogs to Create a Feral/Free-roaming Cat Population Model (pdf)

Thank you to the Leonard X. Bosack & Bette M. Kruger Foundation and PetSmart Charities for sponsoring this event and to the ASPCA® for funding the next steps on this important project!

Leonard X. Bosack & Bette M. Kruger Foundation   


Immunocontraceptive Approaches for Sterilization of Dogs and Cats
November 19-21, 2009, Roanoke, Virginia, U.S.

Immunocontraception has been researched for forty years or more. One immunocontraceptive, a vaccine using porcine zona pellucida, has been used for years to control wild horse populations (Jay Kirkpatrick, Zoo Montana). Gonacon®, a GnRH vaccine developed by the National Wildlife Research Center,  received regulatory approval in February, 2010 from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for use in deer. However, despite the amount of research in this area, immunocontraceptives fall short of our objectives for cats and dogs. All current approaches either require multiple treatments or have limited duration of effect. There are significant innovations that are being developed to improve the immune response of vaccines, and to extend duration of impact. ACC&D felt it was appropriate to explore alternative vaccine-based approaches for cats and dogs that might get us to a single administration and stimulate lasting immunity.

Immunoncontraception think tank participants reviewed immunocontraceptive vaccines that have been developed, including porcine zona pellucida (PZP) vaccines and gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) vaccines. Limitations in efficacy and duration and the potential for incremental as well as breakthrough improvements were explored. The panel expressed enthusiasm for prospects of success of immunocontraception.

-Think Tank Report on Immunocontraceptive Approaches for Sterilization of Dogs and Cats (pdf)
-Participant Biographies (pdf)

Thank you to the Found Animals Foundation and the Animal Assistance Foundation for sponsoring this event!


Gene Silencing Potential for Sterilization of Cats and Dogs
October 15-17, 2009, Denver, Colorado, U.S.
The concept of using interfering RNA or other gene silencing technologies is on the cutting edge of human medicine and shows great promise in certain therapeutic areas. However, researchers interested in the human medical applications of the technology have generally not explored targeting genes involved in reproductive control, especially not in animals. ACC&D has identified this area as one with promise, though with challenges to navigate, making it a prime area for a gathering of experts to explore.

Gene silencing think tank participants discussed pathways where inhibition of a gene might interfere with reproduction and fertility, including master reproductive hormone, germ cells, pheromone signals, fertilization, embryo implantation, and trophoblast/embryo support.

-Think Tank Report on Gene Silencing (pdf)
-Participant Biographies (pdf)

Thank you to the Found Animals Foundation and the Animal Assistance Foundation for sponsoring this event!


(Page last updated August 2013)