SAB Biotherapeutics, Inc. (SAB), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, recently held a public groundbreaking to for their first-of-its-kind greenfield biopharmaceutical production pharm under construction in Lincoln County. 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,” said SAB Biotherapeutics president, CEO and co-founder Dr. Eddie Sullivan. “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 lifecycle of the science culminated in the production pharm. It began with remarks from the technology’s founder Dr. James Robl who began working on the project turned company while a professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1998.
The TcBovine have 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 humans. However, SAB’s platform is the first to produce fully 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 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,” added Sullivan.
Phase I 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 our TcBovine with areas specifically designed for plasma collection, research, veterinary care, feed and equipment storage and offices. Phase 2, is planned over a number of years, and includes 10 buildings with more than 100,000 sq. ft., approximately 40 employees and 400 animals at full capacity.
“At full capacity, just 20 percent 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.
Todd Stahl, executive director of animal management who will oversee the facility, emceed the brief program recognizing the project’s contributors and outlined the aspects of the new facility.
Other speakers included:
• The Honorable Governor Dennis Daugaard – State of South Dakota
• Dr. Eddie Sullivan, president, CEO and co-founder – SAB Biotherapeutics
• Dan Jenkins, senior director food and ag – Biotechnology Innovation Organization
• Slater Barr, president – Sioux Falls Development Foundation
• Joni Johnson, executive director – South Dakota Biotech
• Nick Fosheim, executive director – Lincoln and Minnehaha Area Economic Development
“We believe in the technology and the team,” said president Slater Barr of the Sioux Falls Development Foundation who invested $3 million in the company in January of 2015. “These are people we work and live with that are doing amazing things. It’s exciting to see our investment, paying dividends in our community and our state while positively impacting mankind,” he added.
Senior director of food and ag Dan Jenkins with the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) the trade association, representing biotech in 30 countries, shared the industry’s perspective.
“This is much bigger than the construction of an 80-acre pharm,” he 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 state of South Dakota has been an important partner in the development of biotech in the state and key player in the SAB Biotherapeutics’ growth.
“SAB has been a leader in South Dakota’s bioscience and biotechnology industries for 17 years,” said Governor Daugaard. “Their scientists continue to develop and deliver innovative technologies that have the potential to treat harmful diseases like Ebola, Zika and influenza giving hope to many that struggle with illness. We are proud that SAB continues to call South Dakota home.”
The site northwest of Canton was purchased in July by Dakota Ag Properties, of which SAB is a partner, from the Abbott trust and facilitated through the Canton Economic Development Corporation. Construction on the pharm began August 23 with completion of the first two buildings by the end of the year and remainder of the initial phase spring of 2018.
The general contractor is Canton-based Hoogendoorn Construction, Inc., with services provided by ProAg Engineering Inc. of Jackson, Minnesota and VanDeWalle Architects LLC of Sioux Falls.
“We’re excited to grow our operations in South Dakota and utilize the great resources and people in the state,” concluded Sullivan. “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.”
Source: Farm Forum