The emergence of COVID-19 sent the world into a frenzy. Medical and scientific communities have been scrambling for ways to combat the virus. With every passing day, new therapies are emerging with the potential to treat the symptoms and improve clinical outcomes for COVID-19 patients. A clinical trial
explores one such therapy called lactoferrin which has recently gained attention.
COVID-19 is a highly infectious disease caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 that has affected millions of people worldwide.
The disease has a wide range of symptoms, ranging from mild flu-like symptoms to severe respiratory distress and multi-organ failure. As a result, researchers have been exploring various treatment options for COVID-19 patients. One such therapeutic intervention is the use of lactoferrin.
Lactoferrin is a protein found in milk and other bodily fluids, such as saliva and tears. It is known for its ability to boost the immune system and fight off infections. However, solid clinical evidence justifying its use in COVID-19 was missing.
To overcome this, a clinical trial was conducted aimed at investigating the safety and effectiveness of lactoferrin in the treatment of patients hospitalized with COVID-19.
The clinical study involved 218 hospitalized patients with COVID-19, who were randomly assigned to either a treatment group or a control group. The treatment group received 800 mg of lactoferrin supplements per day in addition to standard COVID-19 therapy, while the control group received a placebo in combination with the standard COVID-19 therapy. The researchers investigated whether lactoferrin could help improve outcomes for patients with COVID-19.
The researchers found that there were no differences in the patient outcomes between the two groups. The intensive care unit admission rate and the death rate were found to be similar in both groups. An almost equal number of patients with COVID-19 in each group were transferred to the ICU or died during hospitalization—24/113 (21.2%) lactoferrin-treated patients vs. 21/105 (20.0%) patients in the placebo group. Similarly, 67/113 (59.3%) lactoferrin-treated patients vs. 73/105 (69.5%) patients in the placebo group were discharged from the hospital within 14 days.
Additionally, lactoferrin did not affect the need for oxygen supplementation and its duration, mechanically assisted ventilation or in-hospital mortality at 14 and 28 days from admission.
The findings of this clinical trial clearly indicate that lactoferrin did not have any positive effect on the clinical outcomes of COVID-19-affected patients.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, lactoferrin was widely proposed as an antiviral agent and a booster of the immune response. However, this clinical trial did not show any significant effect of lactoferrin in modifying the clinical evolution of the disease when used as an add-on treatment in adult patients hospitalized with moderate-to-severe COVID-19. Although the clinical trial showed that lactoferrin was safe and tolerable, the results did not support its use as an add-on therapy for COVID-19 patients.