Lead: Dr Michelle Kilcoyne, Dr Marie le Berre
The goal of the infant formula industry is to mimic the composition of human milk and thereby ensure optimal nutrition and development of the human infant. Oligosaccharides are the third largest component of human milk and functions include prebiotic activity to promote commensal growth, protecting the gut epithelium from pathogenic invasion, and stimulating development of the normal immune system. The oligosaccharide content of cow’s milk is less than 5% that of human milk, although both have some similar structures. Many milk proteins are glycosylated and their glycan components share some of the biological activities of the oligosaccharide fraction. However, the glycan component of milk glycoproteins has not been explored in any depth and remains to be exploited
The glycoscience group has several active programmes to develop methods for fractionation of soluble milk glycoproteins from various processing stream, based on glycan motifs. The activity of the isolated fractions is then determined using several in vitro bioassays including pro- and anti-microbial activities and modulatory effects on mammalian cell lines that are representative of gut, immune and neural tissues. Once selected active milk glycoproteins are identified, scale up procedures for these fractions will be developed.