BIOMILQ, which creates cultured human breastmilk in a lab, announced today that it has raised $3.5 million in funding. The round was led by Breakthrough Energy Ventures with participation from Shazi Visram, founder of Happy Family Brands and healthynest.
We’ve covered BIOMILQ before, writing about the company:
The startup was founded last year by Michelle Egger, a food scientist who previously worked in dairy R&D at General Mills, and Dr. Leila Strickland, a cell biologist who first conceptualized the technology in 2013 while breastfeeding her own daughter. The two met in the Research Triangle and created a patent-pending technology in which they trigger human mammary gland cells, kept alive by a constant stream of nutrients, to lactate. They then collect the resulting breastmilk.
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, “Breast milk is uniquely suited to the human infant’s nutritional needs and is a live substance with unparalleled immunological and anti-inflammatory properties that protect against a host of illnesses and diseases for both mothers and children.1”
However, breastfeeding isn’t always possible for number of reasons including low milk production, medical challenges, or the ongoing stigmas attached to breastfeeding/pumping in public or work places. BIOMILQ hopes its cultured breastmilk can serve as a healthier and more environmentally friendly option to dairy-based formulas.
BIOMILQ isn’t the only company looking to recreate breastmilk in the lab. Over in Singapore, TurtleTree Labs uses mammary gland cells in a nutrient rich bath to lactate milk. BIOMILQ told The Spoon previously that its technology does not require the nutrient bath and is a “much cleaner technology.”
The company is still very early on and a concept as new as cultured human breastmilk will undoubtedly face scrutiny from regulators, so there is a lot of work yet to be done. BIOMILQ said it will use its new funding to work on production, hire out its team and engage with key stakeholders including families, pediatricians and the breastfeeding community.