Two institutes of the Czech Academy of Sciences, two Charles University faculties, and business joined forces to develop a new immunomodulator – a substance boosting the immunity system. The new substance was administered to nearly 40,000 employees of Škoda Auto a.s. as part of a preventive health program for two years.Over the period, there was a decrease in respiratory disease incidence.
As a result, two new products have been introduced: a dietary supplement that is effective during an acute infection in the nasopharynx, and a long-term immunity boosting drug. Both products contain unique, internationally patented biotechnologically engineered strain Monascus purpureus NEXARS that has been cultivated under special conditions, and bacteria that would cause a disease if administered alive.
“In this case, the bacteria are carefully killed so that they can stimulate the mucous membrane and the immunity system at the point of entry of an infection,” explains Pavel Martásek, CEO of BIOCEV research center in Vestec. The new agent was tested on immune cells extracted from human blood. “We examined if and how fast the immune system will be activated. We observed a sharp increase in immune system cell activity in the first 24 hours, which is crucial for a rapid response in acute stages of a disease,” adds Róbert Hromádka, director of the R&D center of Nexars, a Czech biotechnology company.
The preparation for both acute and long-term usage is administered in the form of tablets to be dissolved in the mouth. The results of the preventive program include not only a saving of 50 million crowns on sickness benefits but also an improved health and quality of life of the Škoda employees involved. “The program turned out to be effective, so we decided to carry on,” adds Jiří Prokop from Škoda Auto a.s.
The development of the new immunity boosting agent was a collaboration between members of the BIOCEV research center including First Faculty of Medicine of Charles University, Faculty of Science of Charles University, Microbiology Institute of Czech Academy of Sciences, and the Institute of Macromolecular Chemistry of Czech Academy of Sciences.
The project, which was supported by the Czech Ministry of Industry and Trade, received an honorary certificate in the Innovation of the Year 2019 competition.
Author: Markéta Růžičková, Media Communication Department of the Czech Academy of Sciences, in collaboration with Petr Solil, BIOCEV