Egg Compounds Can Inhibit Virus Growth

FINLAND - Compounds found in egg whites can inhibit growth of viruses, according to research from a doctoral student at the Luke Natural Resources Institute Finland.
calendar icon 15 May 2015
clock icon 3 minute read

The effect was found using fractions isolated from the ovomucin protein in egg white, said Jaakko Hiidenhovi, whose thesis is being examined at the University of Turku in May.

Mr Hiidenhovi described eggs as one of the most versatile foods because of their rich nutrient content.

“However, a hen does not lay eggs to produce excellent human food but to create new life, chicks.

"This is why eggs contain many bioactive components. Eggs are a potential source of raw material for all kinds of new applications in the food, pharmaceutical, cosmetics and biotechnology industries,” he said.

One of the potentially useful compounds is ovomucin, a protein in egg white that maintains its gel-like structure.

Mr Hiidenhovi discovered that preparations of ovomucin created using physical and enzymatic methods inhibited the growth of the viruses that cause bird flu and Newcastle disease.

Both viruses are pathogens that cause considerable losses to poultry production every year. Also, the transmission of the bird flu virus from poultry to humans remains a major concern in health care.

During his studies, Mr Hiidenhovi created a simple and quick method to isolate ovomucin from egg white, whereas many other methods require 1–2 days.

“Any substance that can inhibit the growth of bird flu virus in particular merits further research,” he said.

While the laboratory results are promising, more detailed research is required in both animal and human models, for instance to explore the physiological mechanisms more closely.

“Although the methods used in my research are simple and acceptable for food production, transposing them to an industrial scale will be a challenge,” Mr Hiidenhovi cautioned.

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