A new study conducted on 15 women shows that milk from lactating moms potentially holds secretory antibodies that can counter corona infections.
“There are so many unanswered questions in general about milk immunology, but to be able to study it with a novel pathogen was really important,” says co-author Rebecca Powell, an immunologist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. “What we are finding in the milk is unique compared to what many people have already studied in the blood in terms of antibody response.”
Out of the 15 women in the study, eight had had a SARS-CoV-2 positive PCR test, and seven were suspected cases but were not tested. All of them were lactating. The antibodies secreted in breastmilk provide a broad immunity to nursing infants and may protect them from the virus, and once extracted from the milk, those secretory antibodies could serve as a therapeutic for COVID-19 by being inhaled to reach the respiratory tract, which is where those antibodies are needed. And since there is a protective secretory component to these antibodies, they can endure in the mucosa and target the virus. “I think the potential is really great,” says Powell.