A groundbreaking study by Israeli scientists have found that yogurt can mitigate cytokine storms in COVID-19 patients by disrupting communication between cells.
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What is a Cytokine Storm?
One of the great mysteries of the new coronavirus is why it causes only mild disease in most people, but turns fatal for others. In many cases, it seems the worst damage may be driven by a deranged immune response to the infection, rather than the virus itself.
In many of the sickest patients with COVID-19, their blood is teeming with high levels of immune system proteins called cytokines.
Scientists believe these cytokines are evidence of an immune response called a cytokine storm, where the body starts to attack its own cells and tissues rather than just fighting off the virus.
How Yogurt can mitigate Cytokine Storms
Yogurt is a fermented probiotic dairy drink. Molecules in this fermented probiotic drink seem to alleviate cytokine storm which is the major cause of Covid-19 death.
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It is prepared by inoculating milk with microorganism mixtures. These probiotics in yogurt are known to offer many other benefits like balancing the side effects of antibiotics and soothing tummy issues.
People have relied on yogurt’s potential benefits for years. In India and many other countries it is a tradition drink consumed everyday with meals and otherwise.
Researchers at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) have identified molecules in a type of yogurt, Kefir.
PhD student Orit Malka led the study (read below), which was published in the journal Microbiome. Profs. Michael Meijler, Ariel Kushmaro and Ron Apte, all of BGU, participated.
These molecules can fight pathogenic bacteria and block communication between cells. This approach can be promising to fight antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Researchers have been observing these molecules and have isolated them. They found that these molecules also reduced the virulence of vibrio cholera that causes cholera.
These molecules interfered in the group of bacterial biofilms that contribute towards the progression of disease.
The applicability of kefir-secreted molecules came as a surprise. They do not only alleviate the cytokine storm but also restores the immune system’s balance.
“These results are notable, since this is the first demonstration that virulence of human pathogenic bacteria can be mitigated by molecules secreted in probiotic milk products, such as yogurt or kefir,” said Prof. Raz Jelinek, vice president and dean for research & development at BGU.
“Our research illuminates for the first time a mechanism by which milk-fermented probiotics can protect against pathogenic infections and aid the immune system.
Following promising results in animal models, we look forward to administering these drug candidates to patients who are experiencing a cytokine storm due to Covid-19 infection, or people suffering from acute inflammatory bowel pathologies such as Crohn’s disease.”
Josh Peleg, CEO of BGN Technologies, the technology transfer company of BGU, added that:
“In a reality where antibiotic-resistant bacteria are becoming an imminent threat, the novel molecules discovered by BGU scientists pave a completely new path for fighting bacterial infections by disrupting cell-to-cell communications in pathogenic bacteria.”
“Moreover, the dramatic anti-inflammatory activities of the molecules may open new avenues for therapeutics and scientifically proven probiotic food products.”
BGN Technologies is setting up a biopharma company “for the further development and clinical examination” of the technology.