Could a barn full of dairy cattle help in the fight against coronavirus?


By Julie Anderson, Omaha World-Herald (NE)

Jun 24, 2020


Thousands of people around the world hospitalized with COVID-19 have been treated with what’s known as convalescent plasma donated by people who’ve recovered from the infection.


Doctors hope to harness from that plasma the antibodies that donors have produced in response to the disease. The plasma is given to patients with the goal of helping them fight off the infection or preventing infection in the first place.


But a Sioux Falls, South Dakota, biotech firm thinks it has a better alternative to convalescent plasma: A barn full of dairy cattle that are producing human antibodies to COVID-19.


The company, SAb Biotherapeutics, plans to begin testing the antibodies in human trials yet this summer.


The cattle, a Holstein mix, look just like those found on many Midwestern farms. But they’re not your basic bovine. They’ve been genetically modified to have a partially human immune system.


The company then injects them with a noninfectious portion of the novel coronavirus so they produce antibodies to fight it. “We have already shown our antibodies neutralize the SARS-CoV-2 virus (the more technical name for the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19), and we have already produced a clinical material to be used for our clinical trials,” said Eddie Sullivan, the company’s president and CEO.


And, because they inject the cows over and over again, the animals build up high levels of those neutralizing antibodies, more than what’s found in convalescent plasma, he said.


The company announced...