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Could cow’s milk help in the fight against COVID-19?

Research commissioned by New Zealand company Quantec has found that its patented New Zealand milk-derived ingredient IDP® (Immune Defense Proteins) is effective at protecting cells against COVID-19.

The research, completed by an independent US laboratory, shows IDP® has the ability to protect cells from COVID-19, but it may also reduce the severity of COVID-19 symptoms, a key concern particularly for sufferers of ‘long COVID.’

CEO of Quantec, Raewyn McPhillips, says these results suggest that IDP® could play an important role in the global struggle against the rapidly evolving virus.

“We already knew IDP® offered effective barrier protection and support for the immune system, so with COVID-19 running rampant throughout the world we wanted to investigate how IDP® may be able to contribute to addressing immune health concerns.

“With previous research under our belts showing IDP® is effective at inhibiting and protecting cells against influenza A and herpes simplex, it’s exciting to see IDP® could also protect against COVID-19, both in constraining the viral infection of cells and potentially reducing symptoms.”

Founder of Quantec/Innovation Director Dr Rod Claycomb explains that IDP® is much more potent than its individual parts, such as pure lactoferrin or lactoperoxidase.

“IDP® is a patented natural milk protein complex containing over 50 bioactive proteins, proven to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-microbial properties. The IDP® protein fraction is extracted from fresh, pasteurised milk, in the same ratio created by nature to support the immune system.”

The independent in vitro study compared IDP® against pure lactoferrin, one of IDP®’s key isolates with well researched antiviral activity, and the subject of current studies investigating its potential to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection or provide therapeutic relief from symptoms. [1]

In the COVID-19 testing, IDP® achieved an IC50 [2] based on 3.5mg/ml compared to spray dried lactoferrin’s 4.5mg/ml and freeze dried lactoferrin’s 6.4mg/ml.

"This result supports other testing we have commissioned which demonstrates the efficacy of the natural IDP® proteins to inhibit pathogens and support the body’s innate and adaptive immune systems,” explains Dr Claycomb.

While the respiratory tract is the primary portal of entry for SARS-CoV-2, gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea can also occur in COVID-19 patients. [3]

“Ingesting IDP® may help reduce gastrointestinal symptoms due to its anti-inflammatory effect on body surfaces such as the skin and lining of the GI tract, thus providing some therapeutic relief for those suffering from the virus,” says Claycomb.

McPhillips says that with these results, the company is now planning clinical trials with IDP® and is actively working with commercial partners interested in creating consumer health products based on these results.

“As a milk-based functional ingredient, IDP® provides a natural, safe and effective solution that is supported and backed by science.

“A principal part of our approach is working with strategic partners in key markets, who recognise this and the opportunities available to develop and commercialise products utilising the potency of IDP®”.

“At the heart of Quantec, we’re focused on protecting and building people’s health and wellness, and with the global pandemic we’re excited that we might play a part in a significant health crisis,” explains McPhillips.

1 Wang Y, Wang P, Wang H, Luo Y, Wan L, Jiang M, Chu Y (2020). Lactoferrin for the treatment of COVID-19 (Review) Fusogenic Function of Viral Hemagglutinin. Viruses 2019, 11, 5: doi:10.3390/v11010051

2 The IC50 represents the concentration of a drug that is required for 50% inhibition of viral replication in vitro.

3 Recent studies have reported SARS-CoV-2 infection incidence rates for gastrointestinal or hepatic manifestations of between 11 and 24%. Campione E  Cosio T , Rosa L , Lanna C , Di Girolamo S, Gaziano R , Valenti P, Bianchi L  (2020) Lactoferrin as Protective Natural Barrier of Respiratory and Intestinal Mucosa against Coronavirus Infection and Inflammation (Review) International Journal of Molecular Sciences