Today’s Solutions: December 03, 2023

Preventative medicine is the low-cost, common-sense way of avoiding big and often expensive acute medical incidents. We don’t smoke so we don’t get cancer. We eat healthily and drink coffee in moderation to avoid bad cholesterol. Now, we could reduce the spread of viruses with simple household products. 

Students from Stanford University have devised a way of using chicken eggs and household items to make nasal drops to stem the spread of COVID-19. 

A low-cost antiviral 

The student team developed a way to extract and purify antibodies in yolks, called immunoglobulin Y (IgY). These are safe to consume and may prevent or treat many infectious diseases. The students identified a way to purify the IgY without lab chemicals or equipment, just what’s in an average kitchen. The purified IgY could be used to greatly slow the spread of airborne diseases. 

“Using IgY is not to replace vaccines, but complement them,” said Daria Mochly-Rosen, Ph.D., the George D. Smith Professor of Translational Medicine, who oversaw the research team. “Only about 10% of people living in low-income countries are immunized against SARS-CoV-2 in the third year of the pandemic. This is not good enough.”

They put the purified IgY in the form of nasal drops to reduce the number of viable entry points for airborne viruses, like COVID-19, to enter the body. While the drops would only be effective for a few hours, the team believes this to be a viable measure to take for people in crowded spaces. 

A healthy way to prepare eggs

Chicken egg yolks are loaded with antibodies to protect their newly hatched chicks from diseases. Daria Mochly-Rosen and her colleagues were looking into the potential of IgY and wondered if it could be extracted from eggs without a commercial lab. She engaged some of her college freshmen, who had to develop a way to extract the IgY from yolks in lockdown. So, it was from their own homes. 

The students got to work using common home supplies, such as baking soda and vinegar, and kitchen equipment, like a food processor. They tested the pH levels of grapefruit and lemon juice, looking for alternatives for commercial chemicals, and landed on vinegar, partly because it’s more available than fruit in some parts of the world. 

This was the recipe they came up with: “Separate the yolk from the white, then dilute the egg yolk in water. Add vinegar, shake gently, then freeze until solid. Thaw and filter the mixture to remove the fat. Add salt and place the solution in test tubes in a commercial or makeshift centrifuge, where gravitational forces cause soft beads to form at the bottom of the tubes. Dissolve the beads in water, neutralize them with baking soda and place the solution in a dropper.”

We would like to note that this is not something that people should take on their own and that we should all still follow professional medical advice, wear masks, and exercise caution. 

Lab analyses have so far shown that this homemade remedy is an effective antiviral, and this method could be used in lower-income countries that don’t have easy medical access. 

“This could be an effective and cheap solution,” Mochly-Rosen said. “If we’re trying to address an epidemic or pandemic properly, we need to make sure a solution is available fast and everywhere in the world.”

Source Study: Stanford Medicine News Center — With chicken eggs and household supplies, undergraduates blaze a path toward low-cost antiviral | News Center | Stanford Medicine

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