Your Breastfeeding Journey

Evidence of a strong and specific antibody response against SARS-CoV-2 in human milk


Thursday, 16 July 2020

This presentation will outline the basic immunologic components of human milk, specifically those related to defending breastfed infants and children against infection. We will then dive deeper into what is known about the milk antibody response to various infections, including the origin of these antibodies, their function, and how they differ from those found in blood, as well as discuss what has yet to be fully understood in this research field. Next, our early findings regarding the antibody response in milk to SARS-CoV-2 following recovery from COVID-19  will be presented, including the range of responses in our cohort, the types of antibodies present in milk, and the levels of each antibody type. Finally we will discuss the possible functions and protective mechanisms of this antibody response in the context of protecting breastfed infants and children, and the potential for extracting these antibodies from donor milk as a COVID-19 therapeutic.


  • To learn about the basic immunological components of human milk
  • To understand the antibody response to infection in human milk and how this differs from the systemic response
  • To learn about the emerging data regarding the antibody response against COVID-19 in human milk


Assistant Professor Rebecca Powell, PhD

Dr Rebecca Powell is an Assistant Professor of Medicine and Infectious Diseases at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine. She studies the immune properties of human milk. Dr Powell received her Bachelor’s degree at the University of Toronto and her Ph. D. in Microbiology at the Sackler Institute of Graduate Biomedical Sciences, New York University School of Medicine. Her graduate work focused on HIV genetic diversity, detection and frequency of dual HIV infections, and the impact of these infections on viral recombination and the humoral immune response. She developed a low-cost method to rapidly detect dual HIV-1 infection. Dr Powell’s early post-doctoral research at the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) Design and Development Lab (DDL), as well as her early research at the Icahn School of Medicine, focused on HIV-1 vaccines. She studied the contribution of  antibody-dependent cellular phagocytosis by breast milk leukocytes to the relatively low rate of HIV transmission to infants breastfed by HIV-infected mothers. At present, her lab is hoping to pin down whether breast milk has antibodies specific to COVID-19, whether they might protect babies from COVID-19, and ultimately, whether they can be spun into a therapy against the illness for adults.

Event Details


  • 9 July 2020


  • 1 hour


  • 07:00 – 08:00, PDT, San Francisco
  • 09:00 – 10:00, CT, Chicago IL
  • 10:00 – 11:00, EDT, New York
  • 15:00 – 16:00, BST, London
  • 16:00 – 17:00, CEST, Berlin
  • 17:00 – 18:00, MSK, Moscow
  • 18:00 – 19:00, GST, Dubai
  • 19:30 – 20:30, IST, Mumbai

This webinar is fee of charge