Infant nutrition gets a makeover

Conagen’s novel non-GMO human milk oligosaccharide paves the way for advancing nutrition in next generation infant formulas

Conagen, a rapidly growing biotechnology firm, has established a novel and proprietary process for the scalable production of a non-GMO human milk oligosaccharide (HMO), an important nutritional compound only found in human milk.

This micronutrition breakthrough will enable the creation of high-quality and cost-effective next generation infant formula products that most closely resemble human breast milk.

Human milk oligosaccharides are complex sugars that are naturally found in human milk. They are the third largest solid component in human milk after fat and lactose, and convey a variety of benefits.

HMOs are responsible for directly stimulating the immune system by promoting good gut bacteria, strengthening the gut barrier function and blocking pathogens.

The most abundant HMO in human milk is 2’-fucosyllactose (2’FL). Cow’s milk contains very little of this important compound, and for this reason the best infant formulas must be fortified with it to deliver the immune system benefits.

Purifying this compound from either cow or human milk is obviously unsustainable, which is why Conagen researchers harnessed the technology of bioconversion for a sustainable non-GMO production process.

Unlike Conagen’s process, nearly all other HMOs on the market are produced by genetically engineered organisms. Conagen’s HMO product therefore offers source-sensitive consumers a pure, sustainable alternative ingredient for infant nutrition products.

“We leveraged our industry leading technology for production of non-GMO certified natural sweeteners to instead make HMOs with simple enzymes rather than recombinant organisms. In this regard, our process resembles the way cheese is made,” said VP of Innovation, Dr Casey Lippmeier.

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