Whey Protein in Breastmilk Can “Kill” COVID-19 Virus, A Recent Study Reveals
Contrary to what they expected, scientists Yigang Tong and his colleagues found out that it wasn’t the antibodies in the breastmilk that helped suppress the SARS-CoV2 virus – it was the whey protein.
In their breastmilk and COVID research, the investigators used various types of cells: From animal kidney cells to human lung and gut cells.
- They mixed the cells in human breastmilk, washed the milk off, and then exposed the cells to the COVID-19 virus. Then, they also exposed the sample cells to its relative, pangolin coronavirus.
- Results showed that the COVID-19 virus as well as the pangolin coronavirus didn’t bind to the cell. They also noted that the breastmilk helped prevent viral entry.
The researchers likewise checked the effect of human breastmilk to the already-infected cells. They observed that the milk effectively inhibited the “post-entry viral replication”. This means that because of the breastmilk, the virus inside the cell didn’t multiply any further.
It Was the Whey Protein
Initially, the scientists suspected that the well-known antibody proteins in the milk (such as the Lactoferrin and IgA) inhibited the viral binding, entry, and replication.
However, they discovered that the antibodies showed “limited anti-coronavirus” properties. This only indicates that another component in the breastmilk was responsible in “killing” the viruses.
That was when they focused on whey protein.
In their breastmilk and COVID research, Tong and his team noticed that the whey protein in cow and goat milk exhibited the same ability to “suppress” the viruses by up to 70%. However, the whey in human breastmilk appeared to be more effective. This is because it inhibited the viral activities by close to 100%.
Donated Breastmilk May Not be as Effective
Because mothers sometimes give donated breastmilk to their baby, due to low milk supply and other constraints, the investigators also studied if it will just be as effective in suppressing the COVID-19 virus.
They found out that if they’ll use donated breastmilk, the effectiveness will drop to under 20%.