Pharmaceutical leader with global reach joins SAB Biotherapeutics as chief medical officer

Dr. Alexandra Kropotova looks at Sioux Falls-based SAB Biotherapeutics as a global company – and has the perspective to back that up.

The company’s chief medical officer brings an international history of medical research and pharmaceutical development, including leading efforts to bring drugs to market at Pfizer Inc. and Sanofi.

“It’s a great company,” said Kropotova, who joined SAB in mid-2022. “I’ve been about nine months with the company, but it was love at first sight if you will.”

For Kropotova, the role represents a culmination of a career spent working on potential new treatments using monoclonal antibody technology. At SAB, her work involves biopharmaceuticals using fully human polyclonal antibodies without the need for human donors – the only company in the world to offer such a novel approach.

“Monoclonal antibodies have made a huge difference, and there has been significant progress in treating many severe diseases, but looking forward, we know there is a limit to how much efficacy and value this modality can deliver,” she said.

“There are so many diseases that haven’t been touched yet. SAB offers a very unique platform that has the ability to deliver for very complex diseases. It has that true next-generation potential and promise to deliver new treatments.”

But first, there’s a clinical development strategy and regulatory path to approval globally that all pharmaceutical drugs must navigate – and that’s where Kropotova excels.

Before joining SAB, she was the therapeutic area head of global specialty R&D at Teva Pharmaceuticals, where she led innovative drug development focused on delivering a broad portfolio of immunology, respiratory and immuno-oncology assets.

Before that, she served in various roles at Sanofi, including vice president of strategy and strategic planning head for North American Medical Affairs and vice president of the immuno-inflammation therapeutic strategic unit, global R&D clinical development and senior medical director of respiratory, allergy and anti-infectives. Her roles at Pfizer included most recently serving as director and head of global clinical respiratory and analgesics.

“The expertise and background she brings to the table as a lead in immunotherapy development is a critical component for SAB,” co-founder, president and CEO Eddie Sullivan said.

“Alexandra knows what it takes to bring a blockbuster drug to the market. SAB has been great at the science, the development and manufacturing, but what she brings is the absolute critical next step.”

Based in Philadelphia, Kropotova is originally from Russia, where she earned her Doctor of Medicine in internal medicine from the Vladivostok State Medical University. She grew up in a family of physicians, so “going into medicine was a very natural choice,” she said.

But medical school also introduced her to bench research, leading her into a fellowship within the international research community and a passion for helping patients through scientific discovery. She came to the U.S. in the late 1990s and earned her MBA at Ohio University.

“I needed to see that final result of the life science research, I wanted to be a part of the research community that brings new treatments that will help save lives of patients, and that’s where the private sector excels,” she said.

Throughout her career, Kropotova  has been instrumental in bringing multiple well-known therapeutics to market and launching them, including the allergy drug Xyzal and Dupixent, which treats atopic dermatitis and asthma among many other diseases.

“At SAB, the innovation is not one-dimensional. It’s multi-dimensional,” she said. “Our platform includes state-of-the-art cloning with human artificial chromosomes, creating multiple antigens that are safe and produce high titers of fully human antibodies that address multiple broken disease pathways at once, rather than one pathway at a time. Creating a novel treatment that will make a big difference in treating a severe disease, innovation has to work in so many different places. It’s almost like a miracle. Innovation in one area is hard to make work, but here it works through multiple steps that are connected. And the fact it has already been shown to work in several diseases is very unique. I’ve worked in many modalities, but that level is unprecedented.”

But, because it is so novel, it requires “designing a path to get to the final destination in hopefully the most efficient way,” she added.

That’s where Kropotova’s tenaciousness is an asset, Sullivan said.

“We need that strength as we move forward a new way of developing immunotherapy drugs,” he said. “As we’ve moved into different stages as a company, we’ve been required to attract new talent, and Alexandra is an example of how we’ve been able to do that, and we’re very appreciative of it.”

SAB’s team is working on a pipeline that includes therapeutics for influenza and Clostridioides difficile Infection, or C. diff, as well as a disease-modifying treatment in development for Type 1 diabetes.

“As SAB advances its work, it’s encouraging to see the high level of talent being attracted to this company,” said Joni Ekstrum, executive director of South Dakota Biotech.

“Dr. Alexandra Kropotova absolutely has proven she has what it takes to bring cutting-edge therapeutics to market, so we’re excited to see her on board and helping lead SAB forward.”

Like her own story, Kropotova’s take on SAB is international in scope.

“I look at SAB as a global company. Our patients are not just in the U.S. We go where the patients are,” she said. “Going forward, we are continuing to look into global trials at the right time. We have a vision for a global team developing new lifesaving treatments that will be needed globally.”

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