I don’t know where it comes from, possibly from having grown up outdoors, or in the midst of 1980s junk food, but for as long as I can remember, I’ve been reading food labels. At home, we rarely used over-the-counter (OTC) cold products because the ingredients were confusing. It is surprising that little has changed in the OTC cold and flu category since the 1980s.
I didn’t originally set out to develop an OTC cold product. As many great things, it happened by accident; but in my experience, chance really does favor the prepared mind. After college, I followed my passion and became a scientist. It is not an easy career choice and given that you need to make meaningful discoveries to graduate and move ahead, it is very exciting but also immensely challenging and risky. Nevertheless, I was drawn to the prospect of discovering something new. I was captivated by the work of a charismatic professor, Dr. David Colman, who had made numerous discoveries throughout his career pertaining to multiple sclerosis and cancer by studying basic science. His research goals were not disease driven but scientifically driven. He asked great fundamental questions and when he made discoveries, they were often relevant to many fields.
For my thesis, which I completed at McGill University in Montreal, I studied molecules that bring cells together during brain development. There were still a lot of unknowns about how certain cells decide to come together. It just so happens that some of those molecules are found in the respiratory system (nose, mouth, and lungs) and that they are the receptors that viruses use to initiate an infection. This is very common in biology and in evolution—the same molecule can be expressed in vastly different systems and can serve different functions; evolution is very efficient that way.
Fast forward several years, after gaining some investment experience in biotechnology and in the wellness industry, I was surprised to learn no one had developed treatments for respiratory viruses focused on the respiratory epithelium, where most respiratory diseases begin. Once again, taking a big leap, my husband and I created Applied Bio to do just that. In the course of researching anti-viral treatments, we discovered that the OTC market has not changed since the 1970s and none of the products on the market focus on the respiratory epithelium either.
After much trial and error and countless hours in our laboratory in Brooklyn using human respiratory organoids, our first product, Biovanta was born. It’s the only OTC product that is both made from 100% natural ingredients and that works to heal the inflammation in the respiratory lining that is the root cause of cold-like symptoms. We are proud of our accomplishments and look forward to bringing many other products to market soon through our pipeline.
Nazlie Latefi, PhD
Chief Scientific Officer and Co-founder
Applied Biological Laboratories