Breast milk may be usable as medicine for corona patients

Antibodies against coronavirus found in breast milk

The milk of women who have had COVID-19 contains antibodies against the coronavirus. This has been shown by a research team led by the Emma Children’s Hospital (Amsterdam UMC), in which Utrecht scientists are participating. Based on this finding the researchers hope that the breast milk may be used as a medicine for vulnerable corona patients.

The Utrecht researchers analysed breast milk from corona-affected women to see how much and which antibodies the milk contains and how these levels change during the lactation period. They indeed found many antibodies against the coronavirus in the breast milk.

Professor Albert Heck of Utrecht University
Prof. Albert Heck

Antibodies

“The mother’s body makes antibodies that can neutralize the coronavirus,” explains Prof. Albert Heck. “The fact that these are also found in breast milk is probably to protect their babies from the virus. Ideally, we will find a lot of very strong antibodies against COVID in the breast milk. Then that milk could be used to protect not only babies, but also vulnerable COVID patients.”

Ice cubes

The researchers hope to administer the milk in the form of ice cubes. When a patient licks such an ice cube, the antibodies will directly reach the relevant places in the mouth and nose, killing the virus particles there. Heck emphasizes: “We’re not that far yet. But this is what we’re hoping for.”

Volunteers

The researchers studied the breast milk of several dozen ex-corona-patients who had just given birth. The women had volunteered following a call on social media. The researchers now hope to attract more donors.

Volunteers can register for donating breast milk at covid.milk@amsterdamumc.nl.

Dutch media