Drug Study at IZU Against Covid-19

During an article study they were working on with their thesis advisor, Vice Coordinator of Istanbul Sabahattin Zaim University Laboratories and Halal Foods R&D Excellence Centre Researcher Bilal Çakır, started preparing for a project on a drug candidate, from a protein in goat’s milk they had found to be effective against the novel coronavirus (Covid-19).

Çakır, who for about 10 years has been carrying out studies relating to the effectiveness of valuable bioactive compounds acquired from dairy and herbal products on cancer and cardiovascular diseases, focused on drugs that can be used in treatment of Covid-19 due to the ongoing pandemic.

Çakır and their thesis advisor Marmara University Faculty of Dentistry academic member Prof. Dr Tuğba Tunalı, Faculty of Pharmacy academic members Prof. Dr Göksel Şener and Assoc. Prof Dr Betül Okuyan, discovered in an article study that bioactive peptides found in goat’s milk proteins were effective against Covid-19.

Thereupon, Çakır’s article devoted to developing a Covid-19 drug candidate from the active substance in goat’s milk, were published on European Journal of Pharmacology. While advancing his endeavour and obtaining a patent, Çakır will also apply for a project at Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK).

 “Could Goat’s milk be beneficial in treatment of Covid-19?”

İZÜ Halal Foods R&D Excellence Centre Researcher Bilal Çakır, stated they have carried out various studies for 10 years relating to the use of bioactive compounds found in dairy and herbal products in treatment of diseases.

In their master’s thesis, Çakır, with their advisor Prof Dr Tuğba Tunalı Akbay mentioned they were working on the use of bioactive peptides obtained from proteins purified from goat’s milk in treatment of colon cancer has said these:

“While carrying out my article studies the Covid-19 pandemic has started off. While researching on the question of “Could goat’s milk be beneficial in treatment of Covid-19?” we achieved good results. Through the pandemic period we could not work in a laboratory environment, thus we worked on protein peptide interactions on computerized databases. We prepared the article about this project of ours and sent it to the European Journal of Pharmacology. Our study was accepted.”

Regarding the study they will carry out in the laboratory about the project, Çakır informed “After the goat’s milk is acquired, it will be subject to some pre-treatment in a laboratory environment. After these processes, we will obtain the proteins. With the proteins obtained, we will extract the bioactive peptides through enzymatic treatments and afterwards we will analyse their activity in various cell cultures in vitro.”

Drug candidate planned to be administered both nasally and orally

Çakır, mentioned the project has 3 footings: Istanbul Sabahattin Zaim University, Marmara University, and Istanbul Teknopark, also noted:

“At this point, as part of the project, which is at the preparation stage set for TUBITAK, we are going to conduct mouse clinical trials. We will conduct the trials about both the proteins purified from goat’s milk and the peptides obtained from it separately on mice. We will conduct inhibition studies on binding the peptides to the enzymes which coronavirus binds to, and we will analyse whether they do bind, inhibit, and whether there are anything posing an obstacle for them to do so. If we get good results, we will apply for a larger project for human trials.”

Regarding the area of use for the drug candidate, Çakır said “All other agents as with this peptide can be utilized as a drug and can also be used as a protective. This may change with the course of the project. In our project we have both oral and nasal application ideas. We will also evaluate based on which one is more effective. Of course, our priority is preventing people from getting into a bad condition when the virus enters their body.”

“You cannot protect yourself from Covid-19 by drinking goat’s milk”

Çakır, who emphasized that the project’s findings should not be confused with goat’s milk consumption, continued with these words:

"You cannot protect yourself from Covid-19 by drinking goat’s milk. Direct consumption of goat’s milk does not have such an effect. Goat’s milk proteins are first obtained in a laboratory environment, then processed in various steps to isolate the peptides which make up the protein’s structure. If the peptides we isolate should turn a good result, perhaps a mechanism will arise we could acquire by synthesising. Because we need to think in terms of an industrial scale. Today the production of a vaccine takes months, and the drug industry is the same. What we do is by definition R&D and in a laboratory scale. You will not be able to get protection from coronavirus by drinking goat’s milk.”

Recalling that there are many studies being carried out by many scientists in Turkey on vaccine and drug development against Covid-19 in Turkey Çakır expressed that with the support of the government there will be successful results and the pandemic will be surmounted before long.

Mentioning that scientists in United Kingdom and Iran has published similar articles about the project after the publication of the project’s article in international journals, Çakır said “These are good news, we are glad. Our project has drawn interest globally. We did not expect as such. Our article has found correspondence, from goat breeders to many international arenas. Hopefully, we can put out a useful product.  What matters the most to us is hoping this doesn’t just stay as an article in the literature but turn into a product and be put to good use.

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