A new and better breast milk alternative has arrived, and it claims to be helpful for the environment as well. The U.S. firm, BIOMILQ, is artificially producing human breast milk from cultured human mammary epithelial cells to be commercially available to consumers.
The start-up company has received $3.5 million from an investment fund that is co-founded by Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, and Mark Zuckerberg. The fund was established to help prevent the ill effects of climate change brought about by carbon emissions.
A Greener Infant Milk Alternative
Additionally, BIOMILQ aims to provide a greener alternative for formula milk as an estimated ten percent of the global dairy industry, which is a significant source of greenhouse gases, is used in manufacturing baby formula.
The firm claims to have developed a milk form that is easier for babies to digest than formula. Most importantly, it emits a smaller carbon footprint, which will help the environment.
It is unclear when BIOMILQ's artificial breast milk might become commercially available, but representatives from the firm say it would likely depend on the approval of regulatory bodies such as the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.
Healthier Milk Choice for Infants
The approach used in manufacturing artificial breast milk is by replicating the key proteins found in human breast milk. Harvesting cells from human mammary cells, the artificial breast milk presents proteins found in regular breast milk that would contain more health benefits compared to cow's milk or a soy-based formula.
BIOMILQ presented a proof-of-concept for their artificial breast milk in February. The company claims that they can produce both casein and lactose, which are important proteins in real human breast milk.
According to Michelle Egger, the co-founder and chief executive officer of BIOMILQ, while there is no true replacement for breastmilk, the firm believes that they can tackle the power of nature, science, and technology to deliver comprehensive and sustainable nutritional provisions for infants.
Furthermore, the company claims to be a pioneer in producing integral components of milk within the same system using an approach that is sterile from beginning to end. Their novelty allows them to create the full sequence of intricate components in perfect proportion.
More Options For Parents and Caregivers of Infants
BIOMILQ co-founder and cell biologist Leila Strickland said that with their artificial breastmilk, parents, caregivers, and infants would be presented with more options for their early-stage nutrition. She adds that they are determined to create a better Earth for future generations.
In an interview with Business Insider, she told reporters that her inspiration behind the concept had been her own struggles with breastfeeding her son. She realistically addresses how exclusive breastfeeding may not be for everyone, and even impossible for some who are eager to go that route.
She adds how some women struggle with low milk production, the stigma on breastfeeding in public, incompatible workplaces, or families using formula out of necessity, the options left for providing nourishment for babies are sub-optimal.