In A World First, Scientists Made Human Milk Outside of the Breast

The new formula is free from environmental toxins, food allergens, and prescription medications.
Loukia Papadopoulos

Breastfeeding can be complicated for many women. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that infants be exclusively breastfed for about the first 6 months with continued breastfeeding. This is easier said than done as latching issues, fussy babies, discomfort and pain, and inadequate milk supply can often complicated matters. 

For women who can't breastfeed, they have relied on bovine-based infant formula. However, this type of milk lacks the antibodies found in breast milk and also causes many gas emissions to produce.

Now, Company BIOMILQ announced this month that they have produced the world’s first cell-cultured human milk outside of the breast, a healthier more eco-friendly alternative to bovine-based infant formula.

According to UC Davis Human Milk Researcher & BIOMILQ Technical Advisor Dr. Jennifer Smilowitz, “human milk is tremendously complex in both composition and structure which has made it impossible to replicate outside of the lactating parent.”

But BIOMILQ managed to recreate this milk in just 11 months. The firm had the backing of billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates who helped raise $3.5 million in Series A funding from Breakthrough Energy Ventures, the CEO's investment firm focused on climate change.

BIOMILQ co-founder and CEO Michelle Egger and her co-founder, CSO Leila Strickland now hope that their new breast milk will help reduce the heavy carbon footprint from the global infant formula market.

Strickland, who also struggled to breastfeed her own babies, had the following to say about her new product: “Our core hypothesis has always been that milk is greater than the sum of its parts, which all work together as a dynamic system. Our latest work demonstrates that much of the complexity of milk can be achieved by replicating the intricate relationship between the cells that produce it and the conditions they experience inside the body during lactation.”

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The firm guarantees that their product has the macronutrient profiles that closely match the expected types and proportions of proteins, complex carbohydrates, fatty acids, and other bioactive lipids that are known to be abundantly present in breastmilk. As a result of this, BIOMILQ's new product has a comprehensive suite of human milk proteins that not only nourish but also protect infants.

The company emphasizes that the new compound is not exactly the same as breast milk but on the bright side it will be free from the environmental toxins, food allergens, and prescription medications that are often detected in breastmilk. This is great news as the point of the product is not to replace breastfeeding altogether but to simply offer another viable supplemental feeding option.

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