Human trials expected to start next month for Covid-19 treatment derived from cows' blood

(CNN)A South Dakota company expects to start human trials next month for a Covid-19 antibody treatment derived from the plasma of cows.But these aren't just any cows. Scientists genetically engineered the animals to give them an immune system that's part human. That way, the animals produce disease-fighting human antibodies to Covid-19, which are then turned into a drug to attack the virus.
"These animals are producing neutralizing antibodies that kill [the novel coronavirus] in the laboratory," Eddie Sullivan, CEO of SAB Biotherapeutics said in a statement to CNN. "We are eager to advance to the clinic as we move forward in the regulatory process with the hopes of bringing this potential COVID-19 therapeutic to patients in need of a solution."

The company did not say how many people would be studied in the clinical trials or how long they would take.

To make its drug, SAB took skin cells from a cow and knocked out the genes that are responsible for creating cow antibodies, and instead inserted an engineered artificial human chromosome that produces human antibodies.

They put the DNA from those cells into a cow egg and turned it into an embryo. They then implanted that embryo into a cow to start a pregnancy, and over the past two decades, have produced several hundred genetically identical cows, all of them with partly human immune systems.
The scientists then injected some of the cows with a non-infectious part of the virus that causes Covid-19. The cows are now producing human antibodies to the coronavirus. Those antibodies naturally fight off the virus.

SAB has manufactured hundreds of doses of the medicine, called SAB-185, to use in its clinical trials. The company has not yet announced whether it will study the drug as prevention or treatment for Covid-19, or both.


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