Genetically engineered cattle on a farm outside Sioux Falls, S.D., may help researchers cure the Ebola virus.
Researchers hope the group of 50 genetically engineered, cloned cattle will create blood plasma that could be used to treat the Ebola virus, which has killed 8,500 of the more than 21,000 people that it has infected in West Africa, Maggie Fox reported for NBCNews. The group of cattle has been genetically engineered to contain human DNA and are able to produce human antibodies, instead of cattle antibodies, Meredith Engel reported for the New York Daily News.
The cattle receive vaccinations against serious diseases and then create large quantities of antibodies as a response to the disease. Using blood plasma from Ebola survivors in transfusions to Ebola patients may help the patients recover, because the blood from the survivors contains antibodies that fight Ebola. The plasma from the cattle might work in the same way, Engel reported.
Cattle might be able to produce more plasma, which would make the project larger-scale. "From these animals, we can collect 30 to 60 liters of plasma each month," Eddie Sullivan, president and CEO of SAB Biotherapeutics, the company that developed the cattle, told NBC News. "That translates into something between 500 to 1,000 human doses per month per animal."