TurtleTree Labs, which is best known for developing cell-based human breastmilk, announced today that it has raised a $6.2 million Pre-A round of funding. Green Monday Ventures, Eat Beyond Global, KBW Ventures, and Verso Capital all participated in the round. This brings the total amount of announced funding for the company to $9.4 million.
While TurtleTree’s breastmilk endeavors may grab most of the headlines, the company is actually working on re-creating a number of different types of milk using cell cultures. As we’ve written previously:
TurtleTree Labs uses cellular agriculture to grow mammary gland cells in a nutrient rich bath that actually lactate milk. This company is initially focusing on re-creating human breast milk, and will follow that up with cow milk. Because they are creating milk in the lab, scientists can alter the milk to give it different attributes like higher or lower fat or cholesterol.
In its press announcement, TurtleTree said it will use the new funds to “accelerate research and production of functional, bioactive proteins and complex sugars found in human milk.”
Both TurtleTree and fellow cultured breastmilk company Biomilq have made headlines throughout 2020. Both companies raised funding rounds in June. And last month, we learned of Biomilq’s plan to use biopsies to create individualized cultured breastmilk.
The ability to create human breastmilk in the lab may sound kind of scary at first, but it has the potential to do a lot of good. Cultured breastmilk doesn’t rely on animal-based dairy like other infant formulas, so it could have an environmental benefit. And cultured breastmilk could also help mothers who for biological, economic or societal reasons, can’t breastfeed their babies as much as they’d like.
There are still regulatory hurdles that must be overcome before we’ll see cultured breastmilk hit the market. But given the investor interest we’ve seen in the space this year, expect to see more technological breakthroughs in 2021.