SUBSCRIBE

Breaking News on Supplements & Nutrition - North AmericaEU edition

News > Research

Trial underway to combat iron deficiencies with milk protein capsules

Post a comment

By Oliver Nieburg+

14-Aug-2014
Last updated on 14-Aug-2014 at 09:56 GMT

Lactoferrin trial aims to combat iron deficiencies in Bangladeshi women
Lactoferrin trial aims to combat iron deficiencies in Bangladeshi women

The University of Sydney will assess the effects of milk protein lactoferrin to meet the iron requirements of pregnant women and mitigate the health problems of their children.

Iron deficiency in pregnancy impacts half of women in low-income countries, as well as 12% in Australia and the UK. Pregnant women can develop iron deficiency anemia due to the added iron requirements of the foetus and higher volumes of blood in a women’s body during pregnancy.

It can lead to impaired fetal growth, a low birth weight and newborn deaths. The University of Sydney team also said it can predispose children to problems later in life such as low intelligence, obesity and behavioral problems.

Lactoferrin: Cheap and accessible option

"Lactoferrin could prove to be a cheap and accessible way to rapidly reverse some of the ill effects of iron deficiency that affect two billion people globally," said trail leader Michael Dibley, a professor at the University of Sydney.

Lactoferrin is a natural protein found in breast and cow's milk and a component of the human immune system with antiviral, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic and anti-inflammatory properties.

Trial in Bangladesh

The trial will administer lactoferrin in oral capsules to non-pregnant women in Bangladesh with iron deficiency anemia.

The researchers will initially compare lactoferrin with ferrous sulphate, which are iron sulphate tablets that are commonly used to address iron deficiencies.

"Iron sulphate is currently the standard first line of defense against anemia but it is suboptimal and has a host of negative side effects. For example, it is poorly absorbed, causes inflammatory problems, and poses a risk of accidental overdose and death in children if not safely stored,” said William Tarnow-Mordi professor of Neonatology at the University of Sydney.

Phase two & three

If lactoferrin proves a safer option, the trial will then add vitamin A and riboflavin to the milk protein capsules and compare the effects to ferrous sulphate. A third stage will compare lactoferrin with iron sulphate on birth outcomes.

"If the trial is effective, we will be working with our partners in Bangladesh and other regions in Asia and in Australia, New Zealand and Europe to raise the availability of lactoferrin," said Professor Dibley.

"To do this sustainably in Asian countries will mean scaling up the milk production capacity of those countries. This offers enormous benefits in terms of research and development, skills infrastructure capacity building, and employment."

The trial is backed by an international consortium including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, USAID, the Norwegian Government, Grand Challenges Canada, and UK AID.

Subscribe to our FREE newsletter

Get FREE access to authoritative breaking news, videos, podcasts, webinars and white papers. SUBSCRIBE

Post a comment

Comment title *
Your comment *
Your name *
Your email *

We will not publish your email on the site

I agree to Terms and Conditions

These comments have not been moderated. You are encouraged to participate with comments that are relevant to our news stories. You should not post comments that are abusive, threatening, defamatory, misleading or invasive of privacy. For the full terms and conditions for commenting see clause 7 of our Terms and Conditions ‘Participating in Online Communities’. These terms may be updated from time to time, so please read them before posting a comment. Any comment that violates these terms may be removed in its entirety as we do not edit comments. If you wish to complain about a comment please use the "REPORT ABUSE" button or contact the editors.

Related products

Key Industry Events

 

Access all events listing

Our events, Events from partners...