One Health: The future of biotech and a fit for South Dakota

May 15, 2018

This piece is presented by South Dakota Biotech.

Humans, animals and their environments are inextricably linked.

But science and medicine haven’t always looked at it that way.

An emerging initiative called One Health is changing that. Bringing together those who work in human medicine, veterinary medicine and environmental science, the collaboration and synergy that’s occurring has the promise to protect and save untold millions of lives.

“It’s a new mind-set,” said Christoph Bausch, chief science officer of Sioux Falls-based SAB Biotherapeutics.

“The industry is looking at this going, ‘Wow, there are a lot of pieces there.’ But the pieces are there.”

One Health can help address everything from diseases that begin in insects or animals and spread into human pandemics. It can address the connectively of agriculture to human and animal health. And it can help support the needs of a world population expected to grow from 7 billion to 9 billion by 2050.

“Instead of looking at just a cancer drug or biotech company or diagnostics, it’s looking at environmental health and the food we consumer and water we drink. It’s a much broader approach to health,” Bausch said.

The scope of One Health includes:

  • Convergence of human, animal and plant health and the health of the environment.
  • Human-animal bond.
  • Professional education and training of the next generation of One Health professionals.
  • Research, both basic and translational.
  • Ensuring a safe food and water supply that is high quality, available and affordable.
  • Agricultural production and land use, and soil health.
  • Natural resources and conservation.
  • Disease surveillance, prevention and response, both infectious and chronic diseases.
  • Comparative medicine: commonality of diseases among people and animals, such as cancer, obesity and diabetes.
  • Clinical medicine needs for interrelationship between the health professions.
  • Environmental agent detection and response.
  • Disaster preparedness and response.
  • Public policy and regulation.
  • Global trade, commerce and security.
  • Communications and outreach.

The initiative already has global reach.

The World Bank earlier this month released a One Health operational framework to help provide a basis for understanding a One Health approach in global and national investments.

Building on World Bank’s prior People, Pathogens and Our Planet reports, it examines the strategic context, rationale and case for investing in One Health and provides an inventory of tools and other resources from the human health, agriculture, environment and disaster risk-reduction sectors.

For South Dakota, the implications are big.

“We’re perfectly positioned,” Bausch said. “We have a huge agriculture community and an amazing amount of bioscience going on.”

His company, SAB Biotherapeutics, is already working at the intersection of human and animal health with increasing success.

“Through advanced biotechnology, we’ve developed a large-scale platform to create fully human antibodies, without human donors, that can target cancer, autoimmune disorders, inflammation and infectious diseases within a short period of time. This demonstrates how a One Health approach can lead to positive impacts for human health,” SAB founder and CEO Eddie Sullivan wrote in a recent piece on the topic.

“Similarly, scientists have been successful in modifying the genes of livestock so that they are resistant to certain animal diseases. As a result, the livestock is healthier, while at the same time avoiding the spread of disease to humans. In addition, reducing disease also reduces the need for antibiotics in animals and humans, thereby preserving efficacy of antibiotics when needed.”

One Health: Biotechnology sector ready to act

One Health is such a strong focus for the biotech industry that BIO is dedicating an entire day to it at the annual international conference June 4, featuring hours of presentations and discussions on the topic.

“We look forward to learning more about the progress being made to advance the goals of One Health,” said Joni Johnson, executive director of South Dakota Biotech, who will be at the event.

“This is absolutely a sweet spot for South Dakota. Few places can bring together the agriculture, animal and human health resources and expertise the way we can and already have. I see no reason why our state shouldn’t be at the forefront of the direction the world seems to be going.”

To learn more about the One Health Commission, click here. 

One Health: The future of biotech and a fit for South Dakota

An emerging initiative called One Health is bringing together those who work in human medicine, veterinary medicine and environmental science, with big implications for the biotech industry in South Dakota.

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