Now we have a study that provides tangible proof of what is possible with this technology.
Hanover, Germany (PRWEB) June 24, 2006
A new approach to fighting diarrhea that fortifies the standard product, oral rehydration solution, with two key protective breast milk proteins is a revolutionary development that could save the lives of millions of children around the world, the head of an international group of medical and academic researchers said today.
The proteins were developed by U.S.-based Ventria Bioscience, which through a plant-based system is able to cost-efficiently produce significant quantities of lactoferrin and lysozyme, two proteins found naturally in breast milk.
“Our academic community supports the development of plant-made pharmaceuticals because of their tremendous potential to treat life-threatening illness,” said Hilmar Stolte, M.D., president of the International Academy of Life Sciences (IALS). “Now we have a study that provides tangible proof of what is possible with this technology.”
Diarrhea is the number-two infectious killer of children under five in the world and its effects are particularly acute in developing countries such as Peru, where more than 20 percent of the 36,000 children who die every year are victims of diarrhea.
A study conducted by investigators in the US and Peru found that by adding Ventria’s proteins to the standard treatment for diarrhea, oral rehydration solution, both the length and the severity of diarrhea decreased.
The study, which was conducted following World Health Organization protocols, found that children consuming oral rehydration solution with lactoferrin and lysozyme were sick for 3.67 days on average, as compared to 5.21 days for children receiving oral rehydration solution without the added proteins. Children receiving the enhanced oral rehydration solution had 30 percent shorter duration of the diarrhea. In addition, the children who received Ventria’s proteins had a higher rate of recovery and reduced incidence of another episode of diarrhea.
Leading researchers in the field have said that the development is a significant breakthrough in a condition that kills more than 2 million children every year.
“We know that babies that drink breast milk do not get diarrhea with anywhere near the same frequency as children who are not breast fed, so if you can take the important components of breast milk and extend them to children who are not breastfeeding and older people this would be a huge advantage,” William Greenough III, MD, professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University and an international expert in pediatric and geriatric diarrhea, has said. “This is what we call the Holy Grail: We’d like to have something that both hydrated people and could shorten the illness.”
According to the World Health Organization there are 4 billion episodes of diarrhea in children each year. Many of these are repeat instances that can create chronic health problems including malnutrition, which in turn can weaken children’s immune systems and expose them to additional health risks such as infection, pneumonia and anemia.
“Diarrhea is a dreadful disease that preys worldwide upon the most innocent and the most vulnerable groups of people: children, the elderly and the poor,” Dr. Stolte said. “This innovative science promises to provide new solutions to a long-standing public health problem. We applaud this effort.”
Stolte, IALS and its U.S. partner, the Biomedical Exchange Program (BMEP), host http://www.plantpharma.org, an online community dedicated to a science-based, medically oriented discussion on PMPs and their potential to help combat life-threatening illness.
IALS is a global network of universities, medical schools, and related institutions that are dedicated to education, training and research in key issues associated with the life sciences.
WHO guidelines on treatment of diarrhea: http://www.who.int/child-adolescent-health/publications/referral_care/chap4/chap41.htm