Milk physiologically contains highly defensive biocomponents against infections. Based on this, scientists are working on a line of research focused on cow’s milk as a possible help for the person’s immune system to strengthen itself against COVID -19.
The work is the work of specialists from the AGR-149-Infectious Diseases group, from the Animal Health Department of the University of Córdoba (UCO) in Spain. The results obtained so far have been partially published in the journal Frontiers in Immunology, under the title “Bovine Coronavirus Immune Milk Against COVID-19”.
Helping the immune system is possible due to the so-called “crossed immunity”, on which there is already evidence about the protection it provides, as explained by one of the main researchers, Mari Carmen Borge. “It has been shown that the immune cells that the vaccinated animal is generating against the bovine coronavirus are capable of also appeasing other coronaviruses, such as SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19”.
Antonio Arenas, the principal investigator of the project, delves into the similarity that exists between bovine coronavirus (BCoV) and SARS-CoV-2 to explain the effectiveness of this technique. “There are a series of highly conserved virus structures that are similar in both viruses; in fact, both belong to the Betacoronavirus genus. For this reason, cow’s milk could have a total or partial blocking action against SARS-CoV -two”.
In this way, these bovine antibodies could inactivate the virus in people who are already infected or help prevent the disease in those who have not been vaccinated or who, after being vaccinated, have not developed immunity.
It is therefore about providing a supplement that would help the immune system through a dairy preparation, with a high level of antibodies that help the immune system to calm the infection through different immune pathways.
Two glasses of milk. (Photo: Debora Cartagena / CDC)
The animals from which the milk is expressed have previously been vaccinated with commercial BCoV vaccines, therefore they have generated a high level of antibodies. However, the time when milk is most effective is just after delivery, “there the level of immunoglobulin in the milk increases – what is called colostrum – but it has a certain duration,” adds Arenas.
Now the scientific challenge is to be able to extend the bedding period so that it lasts longer. And also to study how to always ensure the same level of antibodies in the final product, which is expected to be marketed in single-dose format from September. “For this, we have to readjust the reproduction cycle of the bovine farm in order to always maintain a series of animals with high antibodies”, the researcher points out.
This dairy preparation, which can be consumed by anyone, has already been tested on more than 300 people and, among them, no serious COVID-19 process has been detected. As soon as it goes on the market, an observational test will be carried out, but, in any case, it will never be harmful to health and it could become a natural ally that provides a certain level of immunity to our system.
There are other technological challenges, herd management, hygiene processes, conservation, packaging, marketing, medical, etc., that make it a holistic and complex project. (Source: UCO)