SAB Biotherapeutics Inc. (SAB), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, held a public groundbreaking Oct. 5 to for its first-of-its-kind greenfield biopharmaceutical production pharm that's under construction near Canton in Lincoln County, S.D.
SAB, founded in 2014, develops human antibody therapeutics utilizing plasma from transgenic cattle (TcBovine).
“This is a historic day for SAB Biotherapeutics, South Dakota and the bioscience industry,” SAB Biotherapeutics president, chief executive officer and co-founder Dr. Eddie Sullivan said. “We’re excited to be utilizing this cutting-edge science, so proud of our dedicated team and grateful for the confidence of our investors and support of our industry, state and community — enabling us to forge a new path and make a global impact on human health.”
The event, held at the construction site, brought together the entire life cycle of the science that culminated in the production pharm. It began with remarks from founder of the technology Dr. James Robl, who began working on the project-turned-company while a professor at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst in 1998.
The TcBovine has been genetically designed to produce large amounts of natural human polyclonal antibodies when vaccinated against a target disease. To produce a therapeutic, the cattle are vaccinated against a particular disease in much the same way that humans receive a flu vaccination. Within a brief period of time, they produce significant amounts of fully human antibodies (a natural immune response). Plasma is collected from the cattle and purified in the company’s biomanufacturing facility to isolate the antibodies, thus becoming the therapeutic treatment for that disease.
Animal antibodies have been made in rabbits, sheep and horses for use in people. However, SAB’s platform is the first to fully produce human antibodies in any large animal species like cattle. The 80-acre pharm is the first facility of its kind designed specifically for cattle. The greenfield construction phase will house current production animals, with infrastructure slated to grow ten-fold.
“The pharm is a key component to owning the entire supply chain — from development through production — to improve efficiency and streamline operations while laying an important foundation for more rapid and expansive growth,” Sullivan said.
Phase 1 of the project includes a four-building complex with a total footprint of approximately 40,000 sq. ft. and four full-time employees caring for 40 animals. The buildings will be used for birthing and housing the TcBovine animals, with areas specifically designed for plasma collection, research, veterinary care, feed and equipment storage and offices. Phase 2 is planned to occur over a number of years and includes eight buildings with more than 100,000 sq. ft., approximately 40 employees and 400 animals at full capacity.
“At full capacity, just 20% of production at the new facility could potentially supply the entire seasonal influenza market,” Sullivan added.
The company’s first two treatments are in clinical trials, with other infectious disease, oncology and autoimmune targets in development.
“This is much bigger than the construction of an 80-acre pharm,” Biotechnology Innovation Organization senior director of food and agriculture Dan Jenkins said. “SAB Biotherapeutics’ platform is breaking new ground in the industry, where we go back to nature to find the solutions to today’s challenging health conditions. The pharm is a true example of the concept of One Health.”
The site northwest of Canton was purchased from the Abbott trust in July by SAB's partner Dakota Ag Properties and was facilitated through the Canton Economic Development Corp. Construction on the pharm began Aug. 23, with completion of the first two buildings planned by the end of the year and the remainder of the initial phase by the spring of 2018.
The general contractor is Canton-based Hoogendoorn Construction Inc., with services provided by ProAg Engineering Inc. of Jackson, Minn., and VanDeWalle Architects LLC of Sioux Falls, S.D.
“We’re excited to grow our operations in South Dakota and utilize the great resources and people in the state,” Sullivan concluded. “We are just as excited about what this means for our company, our industry and the potential for our life-saving immunotherapy platform to have a greater impact around the globe.”
SAB is a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company leading the science and manufacturing of antibody therapeutics. Utilizing some of the most advanced polyclonal antibody science in the world, SAB is delivering the world’s first large-scale platform to create fully human immunoglobulins. This natural production platform holds the potential for treatment of public health problems, rare conditions, long-term diseases and global pandemic threats.