Should it surprise anyone that Israel is on the forefront of finding treatments for the COVID-19 virus? Check this out! The “cytokine storm” that can be fatal in some patients with COVID-19 could be calmed with molecules found in kefir, according to a team of researchers in Israel.
A study published recently in the peer-reviewed journal, Microbiome, shares the findings of the pre-clinical research being done at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) into the usefulness of kefir in treating inflammatory responses.
Kefir is a fermented, probiotic, yogurt-type drink made from goat or cow’s milk and good micro-organisms such as bacteria or yeast. Professor Raz Jelinek, Vice President and Dean for Research and Development at BGU, and Ph.D. student Orit Malka identified molecules in the kefir yogurt that had impressive antibacterial and anti-inflammatory attributes.
“One of the main reasons people die of COVID is the cytokine storm,” Jelinek said. “Cytokines are immune molecules that are designed to help the body fight invaders like viruses. But in certain circumstances, and scientists don’t exactly know why the body goes into a sort of overdrive and secretes many cytokines – so many that it kills you. That is what happens during COVID.”
To test their theory as to whether kefir could calm an inflammatory superstorm, Jelinek and Malka induced a “cytokine storm” in mice. Those mice treated with the molecules found in the yogurt not only recovered fully but experienced a restoration of immune system balance. The mice who did not receive treatment died.
Due to regulatory hurdles, Jelinek and Malka were not able to try the treatment on any COVID-19 patients during the height of the pandemic. But “cytokine storms” are not unique to COVID -19. The researchers hope to move on to clinical trials with other patients experiencing this extreme and hard-to-treat immune system reaction.
“The potential is huge,” Jelinek said. “I think it is still in the early days.” Even though the molecules the researchers identified come from yogurt people can purchase in the store, getting this potentially life-saving treatment from the laboratory into hospitals and homes will be a long journey. Jelinek and Malka are about to launch a start-up company to further develop the technology and bring it to market.
The research team also found that the kefir molecules’ antibacterial properties show promise in the battle against another life-threatening disease—cholera—which is estimated to affect up to four million people a year worldwide.
I believe there is a divine favor and blessing on Israeli reseachers, as God always intended for Israel to bless the nations.
“and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.” (Gen. 22:18)