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SAb Biotherapeutics working on influenza treatment

Published: Dec. 6, 2021 at 5:22 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - SAb Biotherapeutics has entered into phase two of research for its influenza treatment.

“Influenza isn’t going anywhere. It is still here. We’ve had good years but influenza is still a very serious human disease,” Eddie Sullivan said, the president and CEO of SAb Biotherapeutics.

SAb uses genetically engineered cattle that have the ability to produce fully human antibodies.

“We immunize these animals to four different strains of influenza. In fact, on a yearly basis, they are immunized to the same strains that are in the influenza vaccines,” Sullivan said.

The cattle then become plasma donors three times per month.

“We collect the plasma that contains these antibodies that are directed specifically to the influenza virus and purify them out. Then we can use that to treat people who have severe influenza,” Sullivan said.

The flu vaccine has always played a critical role in prevention, but it also serves another purpose.

“The other important component of vaccines and the importance of getting our influenza vaccine is if we do get influenza it lowers the chance of us having severe disease,” Sullivan said.

Flu season was relatively mild last, and that was in part to an increase in the number of people who received the vaccine.

“Obviously with COVID more and more people were concerned so flu shots went up, but we actually saw very little flu because of all the things we were doing. Such as wearing masks and socially distancing,” Dan Fick said, the chief medical officer for Hy-Vee.

Health experts are expecting a more severe flu season this year, making vaccines all the more important.

“This year we are at and soon surpassing where we were last year. Which was a significant bump from 2019. To date, it looks like we’re going to be having a good year with the response and I would imagine it’s even going to increase as the winter goes on,” Fick said.

With this influenza treatment from SAb Biotherapeutics only being in phase two, it still may be a few years before people are able to receive it. However, it’s still promising news.

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