IRSEA, Institut de Recherche en Sémiochimie et Ethollogie Apliquée (Avignon, Francia)

IRSEA

IRSEA is a private research institute dedicated to studying the behavior of animals and humans, their interactions, and especially their chemical communication:

The institute’s mission is focused on studying and understanding these functions’ underlying mechanisms, but also on developing methods to facilitate the management of behaviors and interactions, and to improve overall welfare. Semiochemistry (from the Greek “semios” – the sign) is the study of chemical communication; the oldest and most widespread mode of information transmission among living beings.

IRSEA was created on the basis of one idea: to interact with the living world by using its codes rather than by trying to mold it to our desires. This idea emerged from the major challenge encountered in veterinary behavioral medicine: every day, around the world, millions of pet owners are confronted with difficulties that arise from living with their favorite animal.

For a long time, man tried to force the animal to modify its behavior by way of surgery, the use of psychotropic drugs, and coercive tools, only to resort to abandonment or euthanasia in the end. But another strategy seemed possible: understanding the adaptation process that leads animals to adopt behaviors which enable them to deal with the environment offered by man. Answering this question changes the perspective; the animal doesn’t act against man’s wishes, but simply responds to a given context based on the behavioral characteristics of the species and according to its own learned capabilities, which are a result of its individual history. Ethology, through semiochemistry, seemed to provide the most promising source of understanding and means of action.

Cat urine marking behavior, one of the most common reasons for veterinary consultation in this species, was the first area used to validate this approach. By analyzing the semiochemicals produced by the cat’s cheek glands, we were able to identify the F3 secretion now known worldwide under the commercial name Feliway®. By signing the patent license contract for this first synthesized semiochemical with Ceva Animal Health Laboratories, we acquired the financial means to make a researcher’s dream come true: IRSEA.

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