A mission to make something as digestible as human milk, but as practical as infant formula, Biomilq.
Biomilq is a North Carolina-based start-up founded by Dr. Leila Strickland who grows cells and co-founders Michelle Egger who grows the company – it’s targeting infant nutrition by attempting to reproduce mother’s breast milk in a lab.
The startup, Biomilq, cultures breast cells in a lab – farming them outside the body – and collects the milk they secrete. The company calls it “the mother of all patented technology” and Bill Gates bought a $3.5m (£2.7m) stake in Biomilq in June this year.
“Breastfeeding my child had been important to me because of the nutritional and immunological benefits, but my son was born a few weeks early and had a tough time latching on and nursing effectively, so my milk production was not fully stimulated,” Strickland said to CNBC in June this year. Her difficulties with breastfeeding prompted her to look for a solution for other moms struggling with breastfeeding.
According to The Guardian’s contributor, Jenny Kleeman: for Dr. Leila Strickland, while the science shows breast is best – helping cement the emotional connection between mother and child providing optimal nutrition, antibodies and bacteria; reducing the risk of obesity and diabetes in adulthood – breastfeeding can be a lottery. Many women find it straightforward and rewarding, but for others it is painful and demoralising.
The breast milk Strickland produces in her lab is different from the milk that comes out of a human breast. It can’t change in response to a baby’s needs, as milk from a breast can (for example, being diluted on hotter days when the baby needs more fluids); it contains no hormones or bacteria from the mother’s biome. Most significantly, it has no antibodies, because these are imported into the milk from the mother’s blood, which disembodied cells can’t do. Biomilq’s market research suggests babies who drink their product will be getting breastfed anyway, and given Biomilq as a supplement.
Source: ‘I want to give my child the best’: the race to grow human breast milk in a lab — Inside BIOMILQ: A Cell Ag Company Growing Breastmilk From Isolated Human Mammary Cells — Bill Gates’ climate-change investment firm bets on lab-produced breast milk.