According to a new story from NPR this morning, SAB Biotherapeutics (a company funded by the Department of Defense and based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota) is working on developing cow antibodies that may be able to help fight COVID-19. Genetically modified cows have been given genes that result in an immune system that is similar to that of human beings. The cows are then used to create antibodies for targeted diseases and auto-immune disorders from diabetes to the flu. Cows are well-suited for this purpose because “when they make antibodies, they make buckets of them and they produce a variety of antibodies making it more likely that one or more will be effective” (Joe Palca, NPR).
SAB has already had success with their process in making antibodies for MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) which is similar to coronavirus in many respects. According to SAB’s website, the company “has confirmed production of potent neutralizing human polyclonal antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19”. There is still much testing that needs to be done to make sure that the resulting antibodies are safe and effective for humans but the company “is rapidly advancing the development of an antibody therapeutic candidate, SAB-185, for COVID-19. We’re on track to have a therapeutic candidate ready for clinical trials by early summer 2020.” You can listen to the whole story from NPR here and check out SAB’s COVID-19 page here.