Bovine antibodies could prevent flu outbreaks

A company focused on making antibodies from cattle could help fight Zika, Ebola, cancer, diabetes and influenza.

Amanda Radke

November 8, 2017

2 Min Read
Bovine antibodies could prevent flu outbreaks
Amanda Radke

Whether consumers realize it or not, beef by-products certainly make our daily lives just a little bit better. Cattle benefit humans and provide healthful resources when we’re sick. Insulin and glucagon treat diabetes and hypoglycemia. Prolactin promotes lactation. Bone marrow is used as a treatment for blood disorders. Soft cartilage is used as a component in plastic surgeries. Bone meal is used as a source of calcium and phosphorous. Heparin is an anti-coagulant. And we even use bovine valves in heart surgeries!

READ: Cattle byproducts nurture and save human lives

The beef industry is constantly striving to look for new and innovative ways to use every single part of the beef animal, and an innovative company called SAB Biotherapeutics Inc. is making ground-breaking advancements in this arena.

The biopharmaceutical company, based in Sioux Falls, S.D., utilizes advanced science to produce antibodies from cattle to treat a variety of health conditions. In a nutshell, cloned cattle carrying certain human DNA are injected with a vaccine and then produce antibodies to fight different diseases. Plasma is extracted from their blood and sterilized, and the antibodies can battle things like Ebola, Zika, cancer, diabetes and influenza, just to name a few.

The new facility has just started its first clinical trials on influenza, reports Dairy Herd Management (DHM). According to the article, “SAB’s cattle are ready to produce the treatment. The new facility could make enough of the antibody to meet worldwide demand, using just 20% of its capacity.”

Currently, SAB’s 35 cows live at Trans Ova Genetics in Iowa, but they will soon be moved to a bio-secure barn on the 80-acre farm site. The company could potentially house 400 head of cattle and employ 40 people, says Katie Humphreys for DHM.

This work is fascinating and the huge strides we’ve been able to make in human health and treating dangerous and deadly diseases, all thanks to cattle, is remarkable. We need to shout this positive story from the rooftops and be proud of what our industry is capable of accomplishing.

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of or Farm Progress.

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