An Israeli food-tech startup, Wilk Technologies, has announced a breakthrough in its development of cultured breast milk. The company successfully produced an essential cell-based breast milk protein, lactoferrin, In the lab.
As a result of this development, Wilk becomes one of the first in the world to get closer to commercial production of mother’s milk. It follows the startup’s receipt of U.S. patent approval for its cell-based animal and human breast milk production techniques and technologies.
Due in part to the global supply chain crises, baby formula is one of the items in extreme shortage. The formula scarcity in the United States in the last two years has emphasized the need for alternatives, as not all mothers are able to breastfeed, and access to breastmilk can be lifesaving for preterm infants.
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The importance of Lactoferrin protein in human breast milk comes from its concentration of up to 50 times that in cow’s milk.
Lactoferrin is essential transporter of iron and other important nutrients for breast feeding infants, hence supporting their growth and development. The ability to add lactoferrin to a formula will enable goods to more closely resemble genuine breast milk. Wilk has remarked that plant-based and dairy-based formulae cannot provide the same level of authenticity.
In addition to its benefits for baby nutrition, lactoferrin is also being studied for its preventative and therapeutic effects on illnesses such as coronary heart disease and even Covid-19.
Wilk formerly known as Biomilk Ltd was founded by Nurit Argov-Argaman and Maggie Levy. The company has raised $4.69 million to date.
Wilk concentrates on three primary development tracks: cultured animal milk, cultured human breast milk, and high-grade human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs).
“This breakthrough brings us one step closer to our goal of providing all infants with the full range of nutritional benefits that can only be found in breastmilk,” said Tomer Aizen, CEO of Wilk.
“This is significant news for both the infant formula industry and parents who may soon have access to the optimal product for ensuring their infants’ growth and development.”
The global market for infant formula is expected to reach $125.2 billion by 2030. It is believed that a greater understanding of the nutritional characteristics of the formulas is driving market expansion. Nonetheless, this leaves the door open for supply concerns, particularly in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.