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Unleashing the Potential of Hyperimmune Milk

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Dr William Kelton, an applied immunologist at the University of Waikato, structural biologist, Dr Adele Williamson, and biotech innovators company have made significant strides in developing a groundbreaking solution known as hyperimmune milk.

The concept behind hyperimmune milk draws inspiration from nature, mimicking the protective qualities of a mother’s milk for a newborn baby. The team uses this innovative approach to create a supplementary product to enhance human defences against specific disease-causing viruses.

Hyperimmune milk holds immense potential, with its estimated value surpassing standard milk products. This significant value proposition implies that farmers could reduce their dairy herd or sheep flock size while maintaining their income by producing hyperimmune milk for a few weeks.

Moreover, this technology can serve as an early, rapid response intervention against emerging viruses. Particularly during the initial stages of a viral outbreak, when vaccines and medical treatments are still in development, the availability of early treatments can prove to be a transformative factor.

The lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic have reinforced the critical importance of early intervention. With further research and development, hyperimmune milk has the potential to become a valuable tool in the fight against various infectious diseases.

“Hyperimmune milk is a nutraceutical. A health supplement will never take the place of a vaccine, but unlike a vaccine, it’s much easier to adapt a milk product, as a virus adapts,” Dr Kelton explained.

His current focus lies in harnessing the potential of hyperimmune milk to enhance the immune response against the highly contagious norovirus. Norovirus, known for its gastrointestinal effects, spreads rapidly in elderly care facilities, early childhood centres, and cruise ships.

Regrettably, no effective treatments are available for norovirus, leaving individuals to endure several days of discomfort characterised by symptoms like vomiting, diarrhoea, and stomach pain.

Annually, norovirus is responsible for approximately 685 million infections worldwide, resulting in an estimated cost of USD$60 billion, primarily attributed to lost productivity. It encompasses individuals taking time off work due to sickness or caring for affected individuals.

The team is actively exploring the application of this technology in various ruminant species, signalling potential advancements in the field of veterinary health. These ongoing developments have generated significant interest within the veterinary health sector.

Dr Grant Smolenski, CEO of biotech innovator, highlights that several existing animal vaccines rely on outdated technologies and offer suboptimal effectiveness. As a result, multiple global animal health companies have expressed interest in utilising the “smart antigen” technology developed by the team to create novel and more efficient vaccines.

Research on hyperimmune milk is revolutionising the agriculture sector, aiming to enhance its economic potential. Offering scientifically supported health products, it aids in preventing and combating viral infections during outbreaks, providing significant benefits to communities, such as retirement villages, during norovirus outbreaks or future pandemics.

This groundbreaking research highlights the scientific community’s innovative capacity and underscores the significance of cross-disciplinary collaboration. By combining the expertise of immunology, structural biology, and biotechnology, the team at the University of Waikato is pushing the boundaries of knowledge and paving the way for novel approaches to disease prevention and treatment.

Dr Kelton emphasises the importance of leveraging these advancements to offer scientifically backed solutions that prevent and manage viral infections. The potential benefits are extensive, demonstrating the value of hyperimmune milk research in addressing health challenges and maximising the well-being of communities.


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