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Can a glass of yogurt cure your case of COVID-19?

Can a glass of probiotic yogurt help save the lives of people with COVID-19? Researchers at Ben-Gurion University in the Negev say they have identified molecules in kefir yogurt that are effective in treating a variety of inflammatory conditions, including “cytokine storms” caused by COVID-19. Kefir is a fermented beverage made by inoculating cow’s or goat’s milk with mixtures of microorganisms such as yeast and bacteria. The cytokine storm is when the body’s immune system overdoes and attacks – one of the leading causes of death in patients with COVID-19. The study was conducted by Dr. student Orit Malka and Prof. Raz Jelinek, Vice President and Dean for Research and Development at BGU. It was recently published in the peer-reviewed journal Microbiome The Jerusalem Post that a few years before the coronavirus pandemic, Malka noticed that yogurt had a therapeutic effect and began studying it in Jelinek̵

7;s lab. Together, they identified molecules in yogurt that had dramatic antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. “One of the main reasons people die from COVID is the cytokine storm,” Jelinek explained. “Cytokines are immune molecules designed to help the body fight invaders like viruses. But under certain circumstances – and scientists don’t know exactly why – the body goes into something like a superdrive and releases a lot of cytokines, so much that it kills you. This happens during COVID. “We knew we found these molecules in yogurt with anti-inflammatory properties,” Jelinek continued. “So when COVID started, we said, let’s see if these molecules can help against cytokine storms.”

Jelinek and Malka induced cytokine storms in mice. Then they watched what happened. Mice that survived the storm and were not treated died. But the mice treated with the molecules they found in the yogurt recovered completely. The molecules not only eliminate the cytokine storm, but also restore the balance of the immune system. “It was really remarkable,” Jelinek said. The researchers said they also administered the molecules to mice by mouth – they were placed in water and entered the mice’s digestive system just like a normal drink. During the pandemic, Jelinek and Malka hoped they could apply these molecules to critically ill patients, but Jelinek said regulatory barriers slowed the process and failed. Now their next step is to conduct clinical trials with other cytokine storms. “Cytokine storms don’t just happen with COVID,” Jelinek said. “This is a very bad condition with really very little treatment against it.” Researchers are nearing the formation of a start-up company under the umbrella of BGN Technologies to further develop and commercialize the technology. Jelinek said the company should officially start in the next few weeks and then they will raise funds to conduct clinical experiments. He hopes that the trials will be able to begin within a few months. However, the path from the lab to the table is likely to be long – although these molecules come from yogurt, which people can eat every day. Jelinek said they would be considered drugs and therefore should be subject to full control of any new drug before receiving approval. As such, he said, they will probably also take the molecules in another direction at the same time – as a dietary supplement, probiotic or supplement that will speed up the approval process. that they were also able to show that the molecules have the potential to fight pathogenic bacteria. In particular, they showed that the molecules are able to significantly reduce the virulence of the causative agent of cholera. “This is the first demonstration that the virulence of human pathogenic bacteria can be mitigated by molecules secreted in probiotic dairy products, such as yogurt or kefir,” Jelinek said. “I don’t think there were any molecular mechanisms that humans certainly have. they knew they had a therapeutic effect. Now we know. “

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