Scientists at Applied Biological Laboratories Inc. have identified how naturally occurring bioactive molecules can effectively relieve cold and flu symptoms by protecting the barrier function of the mucosa and reducing inflammation during these infections. Together, they call these molecules, which include lysozyme and lactoferrin, the “Mucosal Immune Complex”.
Research led by Nazlie Sadeghi-Latefi, Ph.D., highlights the importance of supporting mucosal barrier immunity for preventing and treating colds and flu. This work was recently presented at the American Chemical Society’s Fall 2023 Meeting on August 15, 2023.
Mucosal immunity is the body’s first line of defense against invading pathogens, such as those that cause the common cold and influenza. While the mucosal barrier functions primarily as part of the innate immune response, it provides an important bridge to adaptive immunity. Once a person is infected, mucosal immunity and barrier integrity determine the degree of infection, and thus the severity and duration of illness.
Popular cold & flu remedies may do more harm than good
A previous peer-reviewed study by researchers at Applied Biological Laboratories compared the effects of natural bioactive molecules to the most popular over-the-counter cough and cold medicines using in vitro respiratory mucosal barrier model. Researchers found that this popular OTC drug damages the mucosal barrier and increases inflammation (the underlying cause of cold symptoms), which they say can cause symptoms that may worsen, prolong infection, and increase the risk of secondary infections.
Smith Johnston, MD, clinical faculty at the University of Texas Medical Branch, former emeritus Medical Officer for NASA‘s Medical Operations Branch, and a member of the scientific advisory board of Applied Biological Laboratories added that a meta-analysis of decades of clinical trials has found inconclusive evidence of safety and effectiveness for many over-the-counter cold and flu medications. Although these medications often claim to provide the indicated symptom relief, they have not been shown to effectively reduce disease severity and duration any better than placebos. Many of these were approved for over-the-counter (monograph) marketing before the FDA required rigorous clinical trials to approve over-the-counter drugs.
Lysozyme and Lactoferrin strengthen mucosal barrier immunity, block viral entry, and synergize with more specific COX inhibitors
One of the main inflammatory signals in respiratory inflammation and cold symptoms involves the formation of prostaglandins via COX enzymes. When low doses of vegetable acetylsalicylate sour (aspirin), or other natural COX inhibitors such as aloe vera extract combined with lysozyme, lactoferrin, and menthol the anti-inflammatory effect through COX and IL-8-mediated inflammation inhibition of bradykinin is even greater compared to COX inhibitor alone. Thus, this combination of naturally occurring bioactive molecules has a powerful synergistic effect to relieve cold and flu symptoms.
Unlike common OTC cold & flu medications, which do not focus on inflammation at all, and which can damage the mucosal barrier, specific concentrations of naturally occurring bioactive ingredients such as lactoferrin and lysozyme do not damage the mucosal barrier but strengthen it according to previously mentioned colleagues. -reviewed studies. According to many other peer-reviewed studies, lactoferrin and lysozyme activate local innate immune cells, such as macrophages and dendritic cells, and can also bind to viruses, preventing them from harboring and infecting respiratory epithelial cells.
Clinical trials confirm the synergistic benefits of natural bioactive molecules with low-dose aspirin in treating cold & flu symptoms
To confirm their findings and to clinically test their formulation, researchers at the Laboratory of Applied Biology conducted a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled multi-center study. Sore throat relief, a measure of upper respiratory tract inflammation was assessed as the primary end point and reduction of other common cold symptoms such as nasal discharge and stuffy nose, sneezing, sore/itchy throat, cough, headache, malaise, and fever/chills, and graded by the modified Jackson score was measured as the secondary end point. The trial assessed 179 participants who were randomly assigned to either a placebo or to one of three treatment groups each containing mucosal immune complexes and a mixture of other anti-inflammatory agents.
On the second day of the study, the treatment group experienced a significant decrease of up to 4.59 points in the modified Jackson score, whereas the placebo group did not show any increase in any category of Jackson scores. The researchers concluded that formulas containing mucosal immune complexes are an effective treatment for the relief of cold and flu symptoms, including nasal congestion, discharge, sneezing, sore throat, cough, headache, malaise, and fever/chills.
Implications and Impact
The potential implications of these results are significant, given how many people catch the common cold each season. Annually, the average household buys over-the-counter drugs 26 times a year, spending an average of $338. To date, few studies have evaluated the impact of these drugs on the integrity of the mucosal barrier, which may influence symptom severity and susceptibility to secondary infection. In addition, clinical evidence demonstrating the safety and effectiveness of cold and flu treatments is scarce, even in FDA-approved medications.
Meeting: American Chemical Society Fall 2023 Meeting
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