MERS antibodies produced in cattle safe, treatment well tolerated in Phase 1 trial

An experimental treatment developed from cattle plasma for Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus infection shows broad potential, according to a small clinical trial led by National Institutes of Health scientists and their colleagues. The treatment, SAB-301, was safe and well tolerated by healthy volunteers, with only minor reactions documented.

The first confirmed case of MERS was reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012. Since then, the MERS coronavirus has spread to 27 countries and sickened more than 2,000 people, of whom about 35 percent have died, according to the World Health Organization. There are no licensed treatments for MERS.

SAB-301 was developed by SAB Biotherapeutics of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and has been successfully tested in mice. The treatment comes from so-called “transchromosomic cattle.” These cattle have genes that have been slightly altered to enable them to produce fully human antibodies instead of cow antibodies against killed microbes with which they have been vaccinated — in this case the MERS virus. The clinical trial, conducted by NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, took place at the NIH Clinical Center.

The round, spiked objects at center are MERS coronavirus particles.

The round, spiked objects at center are MERS coronavirus particles.

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This page was last updated on Friday, January 21, 2022