Human trials expected to begin next month for Covid-19, derived from blood cows

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But it’s not just the cows. Scientists genetically animals, to give them an immune system that is part of humans. In this way, animals produce disease-fighting antibodies to human Covid-19, which are then transformed into a drug to attack the virus.

“These animals are the production of neutralizing antibodies that kill [the novel coronavirus] in the lab, “Eddie Sullivan, chief executive officer of SAB Biotherapeutics said in a statement to CNN. “We look forward to the clinic ahead as we move forward in the regulatory process with the hope of bringing this therapeutic COVID-19 potential to patients in need of a solution.” ”

The company has not said how many people could be studied in clinical trials or how long they should take.

To make its drug, SAB took cells from a cow’s skin and knocked out the genes that are responsible for creating the cow’s antibody, and instead inserted an engineered artificial human chromosome that produced human antibodies.They put DNA from these cells in a cow, the egg, and turned it into an embryo. They were then implanted on the embryos in a cow, in a pregnancy, and in the past two decades have produced several hundred genetically identical cows, all of them with part of the human immune system.

The scientists then injected some of the cows with a non-infectious part of the virus that causes Covid-19. Cows are in the process of producing human antibodies to the coronavirus. These antibodies naturally fight the virus.

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

The principle behind the drug is quite old. For more than a century, doctors have given patients suffering from infectious diseases, blood products from patients who have already recovered and produced the disease-fighting antibodies. The treatment, called convalescent plasma, is still used today to treat Covid.

Cows have several advantages over human plasma donors. One, SAB says, is cows naturally have a stronger immune response than humans, and repeated injections with the coronavirus make that response even stronger. Two, the cows are large and have more plasma to give. Three, they can donate plasma three times a month, instead of once a month, like humans.

According to SAB, their plasma cow drug has neutralizing antibody levels four times higher than the most potent antibody in human samples they have studied. This research, conducted at the University of Pittsburgh, was shared in a press release by the company, and has not been published or peer reviewed.

Last week, another company, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, announced that it had started testing humans with a drug derived from mice.

“We literally have genetically humanized mice,” said Dr. George Yancopoulos, president of Regeneron. “We put in genes encoding the human immune system in mice, so these mice have pretty much exactly a human immune system.” ”

Regeneron is to study whether the drug is either to prevent or to treat coronaviruses.

“We hope that by the end of the summer we may be able to provide hundreds of thousands of doses to patients in need for both prevention and treatment,” Yancopoulos told CNN in May.

Genetically modified mice are obviously not large. Scientists extract the most potent extract of human antibodies from the mouse and then clone them, theoretically in unlimited quantities.

The company also works with antibodies to survivors of Covid-19.

“We derive full human antibodies from these” magic mice, as well as surviving humans, to maximize our pool and ensure we choose the best therapeutic antibody for our Covid-19 drug, “said the spokesperson. company speech Alexandra Bowie.

CNN Dr. Minali Nigam, John Bonifield, Wes Bruer and Devon Sayers contributed to this report

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