The protein lactoferrin may be a promising remedy against COVID-19, researchers at the University of Michigan have found. They talked about this in more detail in an article in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.
The researchers used human cell cultures that were treated with more than 1,400 drugs and individual compounds before and after infection with SARS-CoV-2, and then analyzed the results using neural networks. So they managed to find 17 potential candidates for funds against COVID-19. Seven of them, including remdesivir already approved for use, have already been considered in this capacity in other similar studies.
Scientists have tested these compounds on different types of cells, including human lung cells, to mimic SARS-CoV-2 infection in the respiratory tract. Nine of them showed antiviral activity. Best of all, lactoferrin, a protein found in breast milk, also sold as a dietary supplement derived from cow’s milk, did the job.
Lactoferrin – one of the components of the body’s immune system, plays a role in the work of nonspecific humoral immunity, regulates the functions of immunocompetent cells. It was previously found that it is able to bind antigens of a viral nature, including lactoferrin was effective against cytomegalovirus, HIV and other pathogens, albeit mainly in laboratory conditions.
The development of new drugs can take many years, the researchers note, so finding effective drugs among existing ones is a profitable strategy, the researchers emphasize. In the near future, the team is going to test whether lactoferrin will be effective in the real world in treating patients with SARS-CoV-2. It also remains to be seen to what extent it is able to withstand the delta strain of the coronavirus.