Human trials to start on coronavirus drug derived from cow blood

A South Dakota company is preparing to start human trials of a pioneering coronavirus treatment derived from the plasma of cows, according to a report.

Scientists at SAB Biotherapeutics injected genetically modified cows with a non-infectious part of the virus that causes COVID-19, causing them to produce natural antibodies against the contagion.

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The cows were genetically modified to have partly human immune systems and tests suggest they are now producing antibodies that are four times more potent than those from recovered humans.

“These animals are producing neutralizing antibodies that kill [the novel coronavirus] in the laboratory,” SAB’s CEO, Eddie Sullivan, told CNN.

The cows were genetically modified to have partly human immune systems and tests suggest they are now producing antibodies that are four times more potent than those from recovered humans. (iStock)

The cows were genetically modified to have partly human immune systems and tests suggest they are now producing antibodies that are four times more potent than those from recovered humans. (iStock)

The resulting drug, called SAB-185, is expected to begin human trials next month. However, the company did not say how many people would be studied in the clinical trials or how long they would take.

If successful, the therapy “could potentially treat severely ill patients and provide protective antibodies for front-line responders, mission-critical staff and high-risk populations, such as the elderly and immune-compromised,” Sullivan said in an earlier statement.

SAB-185 was developed from the original Wuhan strain of the virus, but has also “demonstrated highly potent neutralizing” results against the strain most prevalent in the U.S., Sullivan said.

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Early tests suggest the antibody treatment shows “potent neutralizing activity,” according to William Klimstra, a member of the Center for Vaccine Research at the University of Pittsburgh, who was involved in the study.

“We are still in the early stages of evaluating SAB-185, but the preliminary results are promising,” he said.

This article originally appeared on the New York Post.