Mammalian Milk Oligosaccharides as a Potential Prophylactic and Treatment for Viral Respiratory Diseases

Tech ID: 32063 / UC Case 2020-555-1


Researchers at the University of California, Davis have developed a method of using mammalian milk oligosaccharides as a potential prevention or treatment for viral respiratory diseases - including COVID-19 and influenza.

Full Description

Several examples of viruses previously thought to infect only animals including the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and the Swine Flu (Influenza A H1N1, 2009) and Bird Flu (Influenza A H5N1) viruses. The most current example of this type of zoonotic virus is the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). SARS-CoV-2 has been identified as the viral cause of coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19). Various drugs developed previously to treat humans infected with these types of zoonotic viruses have a very mixed record of efficacy.

Researchers at the University of California, Davis have developed specific mammalian milk oligosaccharides that alter virus-mediated loss of host cell viability. This finding suggests that oligosaccharides may offer protective, antiviral activity. These oligosaccharides are naturally present in milk, also have anti-inflammatory properties, and are already Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) by the FDA. The oligosaccharides have been demonstrated to improve barrier function of epithelial cells resulting in attenuation of bacterial infection and inflammation.



  • Prevention or treatment of viral respiratory infections – including COVID-19 and Influenza A
  • Other potential anti-inflammatory treatments



  • No known side effects or toxicity issues for milk-tolerant patients
  • Oligosaccharides are well-known compounds that are GRAS
  • Potential to reduce duration and severity of symptoms
  • Reduced mortality rate


Patent Status

Patent Pending


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  • Chen, Xi
  • German, Bruce
  • Mills, David A.
  • Shah, Ishita

Other Information


Coronavirus, COVID-19, Influenza A, SARS-CoV-2, Viral infections

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