The two women taking the “breast” out of breastmilk
Biotech startup BIOMILQ founders Michelle Egger & Leila Strickland are optimizing human milk by cultivating it in a bioreactor rather than a breast.
“We can confirm that our samples contain both casein and lactose, the predominant protein, and sugar components found in breastmilk!”– BIOMILQ founders.
In case you didn´t know human breastmilk contains loads of unique molecules that are able to nourish a human through its initial stages of development, and BIOMILQ have now become the first company to produce these important components within this milk using the same system but without the human breast.
But why decide to outsource a process that has been working perfectly fine for thousands and more years?
The founders have defended their research by stating that breastfeeding is actually really hard for some and even impossible for others: “ 84% of moms transition to dairy-based infant formula before the recommended six month exclusivity period. Whether it’s low milk production, incompatible workplaces, or the ongoing stigma around breastfeeding in public,families feed infant formula out of necessity rather than preference”.
Any competition? Well not exactly but it is similar to the work of Singapore-based TurtleTree Labs, which cultivates human breast milk using cellular technology. There is one challenge however that seems to be standing in the way of innovative startups like BIOMILQ and TurtleTree Labs, and that’s twin pricing and scaling difficulties. The baby formula market is hit with higher price points than other dairy products like cow’s milk for example. BIOMILQ is looking to use the factor of personalization to drive sales while TurtleTree Lab has decided they can compete thanks to their nutritional and environmental benefits. These challenges are felt throughout the cultivated dairy industry, even for well-known plant-based startup Perfect Day– Perfect Days ice-cream is developed from inserting certain genes vital to cow milk into microflora and then fermenting them in a bioreactor.
They don´t want their milk to be limited to infants in the future either, and have boasted the nutritional benefits even for adults. BIOMILQ co-founder Strickland agreed that anyone can drink it – that wasn’t the problem when developing it – the problem was avoiding contamination or damaging disruption while skimming off the milk.
So their target market remains wide open: would you try it?