, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 337–342

Recombinant human lactoferrin treatment for global health issues: iron deficiency and acute diarrhea

  • Delia R. Bethell
  • Jianmin Huang

DOI: 10.1023/B:BIOM.0000027714.56331.b8

Cite this article as:
Bethell, D.R. & Huang, J. Biometals (2004) 17: 337. doi:10.1023/B:BIOM.0000027714.56331.b8


Iron deficiency and diarrhea are two of the most significant issues for global health. Iron deficiency anemia is the most common nutritional deficiency in the world, affecting nearly 25% of the world population (UNICEF/WHO 1999). The prevalence of iron deficiency in developing countries is illustrated by comparison with other deficiencies: iron deficiency affects 3.5 billion people, while vitamin A and iodine deficiency affect 0.3 billion people and 0.8 billion people, respectively. The prevalence is highest among young children and women of childbearing age (particularly pregnant women). It is estimated that national productivity levels could be raised as much as 20% by correcting iron deficiency in developing countries. Recombinant human lactoferrin (rhLF), expressed and extracted from rice seed, is being evaluated by Ventria Bioscience for use as a dietary supplement to treat iron deficiency and/or iron deficiency anemia. Diarrhea is also a major world health issue. Sixty percent of children who die under age five die of pneumonia, diarrhea or measles. World Health Organization oral rehydration solution (WHO-ORS) is one of the major medical advances in the past 50 years, saving the lives of 1 to 2 million children annually. Many studies have demonstrated similar efficacy of rice-based ORS. There are studies documenting the reduced frequency of diarrhea in breast-fed children and this health improvement is attributed to the antimicrobial action of the human milk proteins lactoferrin and lysozyme. In vitro data document the growth inhibition of the diarrheal associated organisms: rotavirus, ETEC, cholera, salmonella, and shigella by human lactoferrin (hLF) and human lysozyme. Using Ventria's ExpressTecTM system, we have expressed human lactoferrin and human lysozyme in rice. In a rice-based ORS formulation, these proteins have the potential to provide not only the benefits of reduced stool volume and improved weight gain, but also shorten the course of diarrheal episodes via antimicrobial activity against the causative agent.

iron deficiencyoral rehydration solutionrecombinant human lactoferrin

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Delia R. Bethell
    • 1
  • Jianmin Huang
    • 1
  1. 1.Ventria BioscienceSacramentoUSA