Study to test anti-viral effects of Lactoferrin

University of Newcastle

Researchers from the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) and the University of Newcastle are looking for participants to take part in a new study on the immune and anti-viral effects of the dietary supplement Lactoferrin.


Viral infection

Lactoferrin is a protein which is made in the human body as part of our innate immune systems. It is found in secretions such as milk, saliva, tears, and snot. Lactoferrin is known to have anti-microbial effects and is thought to play a role in preventing infections.

Lactoferrin is also found in cows’ milk and is able to be purified and developed into a dietary supplement. While it is already possible to purchase lactoferrin in shops, there has been little research on whether it is effective in boosting immune function.

Professor Lisa Wood and Dr Bronwyn Berthon from HMRI and the University of Newcastle are leading the Lactoferrin Supplementation, Immune Function & Respiratory Virus Infection (LIFE) trial which will look for this evidence.

“There has been some previous work done on children and adults which pointed to a reduction in respiratory tract infections in those who were taking Lactoferrin supplements,” Dr Berthon said.

“We want to test its effects on the immune function of older people, as we know that immune function decreases with age.”

Professor Lisa Wood said this was an important study given the current high levels of COVID-19 circulating in the community.

“In this trial, we will be testing whether lactoferrin supplements are able to protect against respiratory virus infections. So, this is a very important study to be undertaking at this time.”

The LIFE trial is open to men and women, who are non-smokers, aged 50 years and over. Anyone who is interested in participating will be asked some questions over the phone to make sure the study is suitable for them. Participants will be provided with supplement capsules and asked to take one a day for four weeks.

Participants will also be asked to attend the HMRI clinic twice during the trial for a short appointment and provide a small blood sample. Due to the need to attend appointments in person interested participants should ideally live within 40 mins drive of HMRI.

People interested in participating in the trial can find more information here.

* HMRI is a partnership between the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health and the community.

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