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article imageSouth Dakota's emerging biotech ecosystem

By Tim Sandle     Apr 18, 2019 in Business
Pierre - South Dakota – a state with a population of less than a million people – is anchoring a large biotech ecosystem, focused on tackling global issues with innovations from disease-fighting cows, to light-activated drugs that help repair blood vessels.
South Dakota’s biotech sector is being backed by healthcare companies Avera Health and Sanford Health plus billionaire philanthropist Denny Sanford. This support, along with input from the state government, has led to the creation of the University of South Dakota (USD) Discovery District, established in 2018.
Once complete, the project will add 80 acres of academic research space and facilities for the commercialization of new technologies and exceed of a construction value of $314 million.
The common theme to these innovations is biotechnology, the collective term for the area of biology that involves using living systems and organisms (such as genetic engineering) to develop or make life-science products. Biotechnology contains several subdivisions, including genetics, biochemistry, molecular biology and so on, involving many cutting-edge and emerging technologies.
The park has two anchor tenants established:. One company isSAB Biotherapeutics, who are a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company that just closed $22 million in Series A-2 Round. SAB are developing a natural human immunotherapy platform. The biotechnology uses genetically designed cattle to produce human antibodies that can quickly respond to emerging global health threats like Ebola, Zika and MERS.
The second company is Alumend, an Avera-backed company that’s developing a natural blood-cleansing treatment. This will become a natural treatment of peripheral vascular disease.
Other biotechnology projects within the South Dakota area include a $125 million project that embeds genetic medicine into the primary care practice, from Sanford Imagenetics. The aim is to help quickly identify the best medications and treatment plans based on heredity information. Another comes from South Dakota-based POET, who are a producer of ethanol and other biorefined products. Currently. POET produces 1.8 billion gallons of ethanol a year.
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