Breastfeeding parents have always known that their milk has something special. It’s hard to argue that breast milk is as close to magic as our bodies can produce, which is why a scientist from New York is investigating its potential as a treatment for coronavirus.
Breast milk is full of proteins and antibodies that are passed from the mother to the baby to increase the immune response against the pathogens a baby finds. Rebecca Powell, Ph.D., a human milk immunologist at the Icahn School of Medicine in New York City at Mount Sinai, wants to find out if there are any useful antibodies against the coronavirus in breast milk.
I will test these antibodies to see if they are protective, for breastfed babies, or even possibly as a treatment for severe COVID disease19, Dr. Powell tells us.
After asking for donated milk in a widely read Reddit article, Dr. Powell says the response has been overwhelming. There are many breastfeeding people who are infected and who are ready and willing to donate milk. I can tell you because I have hundreds of emails from people who want to participate, and many of them have said they suspect a lot of infection or a positive test, she said. Dr. Powell in an interview with VICE News.
Dr. Powell plans to isolate antibodies and other proteins from given samples and test a variety of factors: what type of antibodies are present, how resistant they are to degradation, and whether they have the potential to provide protection against coronavirus. Similar tests have been done on blood antibodies in the form of convalescent plasma treatments and the results, although new, appear promising.