SAB Biotherapeutics is moving its herd of genetic cattle from Iowa to South Dakota and expanding on an 80-acre property near Canton.
SAB, founded in 2014, develops human antibody therapeutics using its first-of-its-kind immunotherapy platform leveraging transgenic cattle, called TcBovine. The TcBovine have been genetically designed to produce large amounts of human polyclonal antibodies in response to a target disease. The company’s first two treatments are in clinical trials, with other infectious disease, oncology and autoimmune targets in development.
“We’re excited to grow our operations in South Dakota,” said Eddie Sullivan, president and CEO of SAB Biotherapeutics. “This pharm will enable us to expand our capabilities, our herd and our team to continue to develop and produce lifesaving immunotherapies.”
The 80-acre pharm, an agricultural-based production unit whose output is biologicals for the benefit of human health, is the first facility of its kind designed specifically for cattle.
“This is a highly specialized biosecure cattle facility designed to harvest plasma to be used for the production of human biopharmaceuticals,” said Todd Stahl, executive director – animal management for SAB Biotherapeutics, who will oversee the pharm operations.
To produce the therapeutics, the cattle are vaccinated against a disease target. Soon after, they produce significant amounts of fully human antibodies, the proteins that naturally fight disease. Plasma is then collected in the same manner as humans and purified in the company’s biomanufacturing facility to isolate the antibodies. This then becomes the therapeutic treatment.
Animal antibodies have been made in rabbits, sheep and horses for use in humans. SAB’s platform, however, is the first to produce fully human antibodies in large animals.
The first phase of the project includes a four-building complex with a total footprint of 40,000 square feet and five full-time employees caring for 40 animals. The second phase is planned over a number of years and includes 10 buildings with more than 100,000 square feet, 40 employees and 500 animals at full capacity.
“The buildings will be used for birthing and housing our TcBovine with areas specifically designed for plasma collection, research, veterinary care, feed and equipment storage, and offices,” Stahl said.
SAB’s herd of transgenic cattle has been housed at Trans Ova Genetics in Sioux Center, Iowa.
“As we continue to expand our operations to produce antibodies for additional disease targets, moving the cattle closer to the laboratory has become a top priority,” Sullivan said. “We’ve appreciated our relationship with Trans Ova, but the proximity of our animals and our own team to the lab, production facility and headquarters will improve efficiency and streamline operations while laying an important foundation for more rapid and expansive growth.”
Construction on the first production building began Aug. 23. Completion of the first two buildings is expected by the end of the year, with the remainder of the first phase completed spring of 2018.
The general contractor is Canton-based Hoogendoorn Construction Inc., with services provided by ProAg Engineering Inc. of Jackson, Minnesota and VanDeWalle Architects LLC of Sioux Falls.
The site northwest of Canton was purchased in July by Dakota Ag Properties, of which SAB is a partner, from the Abbott trust and facilitated through Canton Economic Development Corp.
“We are thrilled to see SAB Biotherapeutics, an emerging global biotech leader, growing here in South Dakota,” Gov. Dennis Daugaard said. “If they succeed, we succeed – in creating jobs, building the economy, putting the Midwest bioscience industry on the map and, ultimately, developing lifesaving treatments.”