A Sioux Falls Company Is Leading the Fight against Infectious Diseases
December 1 is World AIDS Day, and while the fight continues around the globe to conquer this killer, one Sioux Falls based company is working on new technology to help in the battle against a number of infectious diseases.
SAB Biotherapeutics, a privately held company that was founded in 2014, has discovered a method for cows to produce large quantities of human antibodies that could be used to fight diseases like influenza, Ebola, Zika and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).
Back in July, the World Health Organization recognized the company's efforts to develop technology to fight infectious diseases. And now, SAB has been profiled by Newsweek magazine.
In an article in the November 11, 2016 issue titled 'Human Antibodies Produced in Cows Might Help Fight Infectious Diseases', reporter Jessica Firger writes about how the new technology:
...followed the same principle used in a handful of cases during the Ebola outbreak. Physicians took plasma from convalescent patients and gave it to sick patients. That worked well in a few cases, but a few patients can’t provide enough plasma to counter a widespread outbreak.
Cows might offer a solution: A cow can produce 30 to 60 liters of concentrated antibodies per month–enough to potentially treat several hundred patients. Humans, on the other hand, are not as industrious—a patient can produce only 4 liters per month, enough to treat about three people.
The researchers first replace the cows’ antibody genes with human genes. Then they inject the cows with the virus they’re interested in targeting. That prompts the cows to produce antibodies against the virus, says Eddie Sullivan, president and CEO of SAB Biotherapeutics. At that point, the researchers are able to use these antibodies to treat a sick patient.
SAB is the only company in the world currently producing human antibodies from large mammals. Officials say the technology won’t be available for another three to five years.