BIOMILQ announced today that it has successfully created human milk outside of the breast. Specifically, today’s announcement confirms that BIOMILQ’s product has the macronutrient profiles that match the types and proportions of proteins, complex carbohydrates, fatty acids and other bioactive lipids that are present in human breastmilk.
This is a big step for the startup, which, in February of last year had developed human casein and lactose, predominant components found in breastmilk. But developing components of milk and creating milk are two different things. Though BIOMILQ won’t say its product is bioidentical to human milk (there are too many factors based on an individual person biology to make such a claim), the company is proving out the macronutritional value of its products in recreating the functional value of human milk.
The science behind BIOMILQ’s product is complex, but at its core, the company cultivates mammary epithelial cells, and grows them in a way that allows them to produce milk. Once up and running, BIOMILQ says it can get from cells to shipped milk product in 6 – 8 weeks. Eventually, the company will take biopsies from a person to create customized human milk based specifically for that person’s baby.
In the press announcement, UC Davis Human Milk Researcher and BIOMILQ Technical Advisor Dr. Jennifer
Smilowitz said “BIOMILQ has shown it can create a product that contains a comprehensive suite of human milk proteins that not only function to nourish but also protect infants.”
The creation of human milk outside of the breast that is nutritionally equivalent to breastmilk is a potentially huge breakthrough for mothers and parents around the world. For those whom biological or societal reasons prevent them from breastfeeding regularly will be able to provide their babies with a product that is structurally and nutritionally similar to human breastmilk. TurtleTree Labs is another company developing cell-cultured milk.
Michelle Egger, Co-Founder and CEO of BIOMILQ told me by video chat last week that the company had initially budgeted two years to hit this milestone, but wound up achieving it in less than a year. “Part of the reason to share the news, is that the technology is real,” Egger said. Because the technology is real and ahead of schedule Egger said the company has more opportunities to work with researchers, regulators and parent communities to further study and develop this product before it comes to market.