Improved Oral Rehydration Formulation
The discovery and global implementation of oral rehydration therapy is one of the great global health success stories of our time. Oral rehydration solution (ORS) is a solution of salts and sugars used to replace water and electrolytes caused by diarrhea. The widespread adoption of ORS in the late 1970s saved the lives of millions of children and reduced the number of deaths from diarrhea from about 5 billion to 1.5 billion.1
Despite this success, diarrheal disease continues to be a global problem and a major cause of death in children. While ORS continues to save millions of lives, it was originally designed to treat dehydration caused by diarrhea and does not treat the disease agents that cause it, like the cholera bacteria, E. coli, and rotavirus. Therefore, a more efficacious formulation to combat disease-causing agents while facilitating the absorption of nutrients and water is greatly needed.
We are currently formulating “Super-ORS,” a next generation ORS designed to fight diarrheal disease as well as treat dehydration. To do so, our development team looked to the success of breastfeeding; breast milk has powerful antimicrobial and immunity lending properties, and children who are breastfed have a remarkably lower incidence of diarrhea.2 Two compounds found in milk, lactoferrin and lysozyme, play a key protective role in the gut and help improve nutrient absorption. Preliminary studies have shown that when these compounds are added to ORS, the duration of diarrhea can be reduced by one third. In addition, to stimulate the economies of developing countries and keep production costs low, we will ensure licensing is available to social entrepreneurial businesses in these countries to use this formulation.
We are collaborating with world renowned diarrheal research institution, International Center for Diarrheal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR,B)3, along with several other research and non-governmental organizations to test the efficacy of our formulation. Each of these collaborators is dedicated to sharing knowledge to tackle the global burden of diarrheal disease and take the next great stride in global health.