Startup grows ‘breast milk’ that contains components of the real thing but lacks immune benefits

Startup grows ‘breast milk’ in a lab that contains two key components of the biological version but still lacks crucial immune benefits

Biomilq says its has created a type of lab-grown ‘breast milk’ in a bioreactorThe researchers used mammary cells to create milk with lactose and casein  

While it mimics nutritional components of breast milk it lacks immune benefits Cost and efficacy over baby formula are two major obstacles

The trend of lab-grown food has reached its youngest audience yet.

According to a startup called Biomilq, founded by a food scientist and a cell biologist, the group has successfully produced a breast milk that has two key components of the real thing, lactose and casein, inside a bioreactor using mammary cells.

The feat, which was announced earlier this month, is a step forward in the mission by private companies to create a lab-grown facsimile (or close to) of breast milk that can safely and sustainability nourish infants. 

Pictured: Leila Strickland (left) and Michelle Egger (right) the founders of Biomilq, a startup that recently announced it had grown milk with two main components of human breast milk using mammary cells and a bioreactor

Biomilq sees their invention as being a solution for mothers who either aren’t given the time and space to pump breast milk either because of lack of paid leave or privacy, and also those who may not be physically able to produce enough.  

‘Whether it’s low milk production, incompatible workplaces, or the ongoing stigma around breastfeeding in public, families feed infant formula out of necessity rather than preference,’ Biomilq’s founders, Leila Strickland and Michelle Egger, wrote on Medium. 

‘Parents and caregivers are left with suboptimal choices, and they want an option that doesn’t force a trade-off between babies’ nutrition and mothers’ well-being.’

While their latest announcement is a step toward creating an alternative for mothers who are unable to breast feed, it still bears most of the drawbacks as supplements like baby formula that its founders are attempting to replace.

As reported by The Atlantic, Biomilq’s founders say that their goal is to make the product ‘nutritionally’ but not necessarily ‘immunologically’ similar to breast milk.

That means it will likely lack some of the key benefits to breast milk, namely its mix of horomones, antibodies, and bacteria which protect babies from illness and help reduce the instance of gut disease, ear infections, and more.

As noted by The Atlantic, Biomilq’s version of breast milk is also difficult to produce given mammary cells’ susceptibility to contamination and the sheer quantity needed to produce breast milk.

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