SINGAPORE: A Silicon Valley startup wants to isolate the sugars that make breast milk unique, and turn these sugars into a product for infants and adults alike, reported Gizmodo on Oct 11.
Sugarlogix, a Berkeley biotech company, claims that the sugars could be the next big health craze. However, the science behind breast milk is still too early to tell whether it might really be a superfood supplement or another soon-to-be-debunked fad.
The report said that scientists have identified more than 200 different sugar molecules or human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) in breast milk. After lactose and fats, HMOs are the third most plentiful ingredient in human milk.
In 2006, one research team found that the sugars nourish bifidobacterium longum infantis (B. infantis), a bacteria that feeds off HMOs, and in turn, raises the acidity levels of the gut environment. According to the Gizmodo article, this makes the gut more hostile to pathogens like E. Coli.
The bacteria also encourages the production of proteins that close the gaps between gut cells to keep microbes out of the bloodstream, and of anti-inflammatory molecules that boost the immune system.
Sugarlogix is working on developing the sugars for babies who are not breast-fed. But this is just the start: The company has its eyes on marketing the benefits of breast milk to grown-ups.
Kulika Chomvong, chief executive officer of Sugarlogix, told Gizmodo that the company plans to turn its powder-form sugars into a prebiotic pill. “This is the very first time adults can really harness the power of breast milk,” Chomvong said. She also hopes that the company will eventually sell its sugars to food producers.
Turning the sugars in breast milk into a powdered prebiotic supplement is on the cards for a Berkeley biotech company. (Photo: Sugarlogix)
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