• July 24, 2024

Breast Milk Nutrients from Tobacco-like Plant

 Breast Milk Nutrients from Tobacco-like Plant
Photo: Africa Studio

Researchers at the University of California, Berkely, have genetically engineered a close relative of the tobacco plant to create nutrients found in human breast milk, reports The Guardian.

While many challenges remain in implementation and commercialization, the study demonstrated that the genetically modified Nicotiana benthamiana could produce complex sugars called human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) that boost healthy gut bacteria and have benefits for the infant immune system.

“We made all three major groups of human milk oligosaccharides,” said Patrick Shih, a plant and microbial biologist who led the work. “To my knowledge, no one has ever demonstrated that you could make all three of these groups simultaneously in a single organism.”

According to the team behind the work, the technology could pave the way for infant formula milk that more closely replicates health benefits of breastfeeding.