In Melbourne, start-up Me& has announced the creation of lab-produced concentrated breast milk. The Australian institution is far from working solely on a matter of ethical divisiveness. However, the usefulness of this new food invention must be presented in the context of strong demand for breast milk from France to the United States.
This is how 2022 began: a call for donations through France’s lactariums and the SOS Prema association due to the lack of breast milk. The situation is not new since the ADLF (Association of lactariums of France) later noted that the lactarium of Ile-de-France had only 80 liters of breast milk in December 2021, when it usually stores 800 liters monthly. In the Leon, the situation is the same, with only 30 liters in 2022. At the end of last year, the pediatrician in charge of the Bordeaux Lactarium already warned, explaining that the collection had decreased due to the resumption of Covid-19. Every year, 55,000 babies are born prematurely and need to be breastfed. Their digestive systems aren’t really mature enough to support baby milk made from cow’s milk.
In America, the context is different. Demand for breast milk has increased due to a severe shortage of infant formula that made headlines in the US press last spring. Supply was initially seriously weakened by the epidemic. The situation became more complicated in February when several infant formulas were recalled by US authorities due to their possible bacterial contamination. Finally, in a country where infants are fed milk, breast milk has been the subject of a major communication campaign. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, less than a quarter of American babies are breastfed during the first six months of their lives.
Meanwhile, breast milk has attracted a great deal of attention with the opening in California last October of an institute entirely devoted to researching the benefits of this precious elixir. It is a question of identifying all the scientific elements that make it possible to refer to breast milk as a real medicine for the treatment of chronic diseases such as heart infections or breast cancer. We know the benefits of breast milk in preventing allergies in babies, but we also know its ability to prevent infection, colds or gastroenteritis. But it just goes to show that breast milk is the true medicine cabinet for adults!
Breast milk from the laboratory
Faced with such a booming and exponential demand for breast milk, could lab-produced breast milk become a solution? Scientists around the world are already working hard on this subject. A few days ago, an Australian start-up in Melbourne (Me&) boasted of creating the first fortified breast milk developed in a laboratory. Race: In June 2021, an American company based in North Carolina (Biomilk) will present itself as the first company to grow breast milk under a microscope. Bill Gates expressed his support.
The more sophisticated the subject at the social level, the less scientific it is. A journal article Conversation, we were told in November 2021 by Ruth Purcell and Bianca Lee from the University of Melbourne, we have breast tissue by growing mammary gland cells extracted from breast milk and then supplemented with nutrients (just like a meat cell). Can be transferred to a bioreactor to obtain “a structure similar to the structure of the milk duct”. “It” is to add the hormone prolactin, which causes milk to be secreted, to produce breast milk. And, “eventually, other supplements naturally present in breast milk may be added, such as antibodies and beneficial bacteria or immune cells and stem cells”.
From Singapore to Canada, start-ups such as Turtle Tree Labs and Better Milk, respectively, are focusing on developing mammary cells taken from cows to grow cell milk, allowing breast milk to be used in reproduction. Proof that the topic is so serious is that Nestlé last year posted a job offer to find an expert in mammary gland development and lactation biology… the story is just beginning.