The development


Partners at Rotalactis have discovered the properties of donkey’s milk protein, and its derived peptides, which prevents rotavirus infection

Donkey’s milk protein that fights rotavirus

According to the World Health Organisation, rotavirus is the most common cause of pediatric gastroenteritis, especially in infants and children under the age of five. Every year, the disease causes 500,000 deaths, 85% of which occur in developing countries, where there is poor sanitation and it is difficult to receive rehydration treatment and other medical care.

Even in high-income countries, rotavirus gastroenteritis is very common, but rarely fatal. Nonetheless, the disease represents a major burden to healthcare spending. In Italy alone, every year there are over 300,000 episodes of illness at home, 80,000 visits to the doctor, and 10,000 hospitalisations for rotavirus infections.

Moreover, specific medicines are still unavailable and the only possible treatment is to replenish fluids and correct the body’s acid-base and electrolyte balance.

In this context, the innovative strategy and activities of Rotalactis – the company based in Colleretto Giacosa (Turin) operating in the field of food supplements, which applied to Invitalia to gain the “Incentives for the economic exploitation of patents“ – has two-fold importance: economic and social.

Indeed, the partners at Rotalactis, biologists and neonatologists with significant experience in the world of scientific research, discovered the properties of an equine milk protein and its derived peptides, which prevents rotavirus infection by avoiding the contact between rotavirus and its target cells.

This discovery gave rise to compounds for use in medicine or food – for which thepatent application has been filed – that can be used as a dietary supplement for children. Rotalactina is at least as protective as human breast milk against rotavirus infections, and may be used as an ingredient to improve the quality of the various types of baby growth milk currently on the market.

The incentives granted by Invitalia will enhance this patent by continuing the toxicological studies and research to validate the technical science of the original idea, as well as to submit the necessary regulatory dossier for Rotalactina to be listed among the “novel foods” recognised by the Italian Ministry of Health.