Danisco, Arla partner for infant formula project

by Jeff Gelski
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COPENHAGEN, DENMARK — The Danish Council for Strategic Research has granted DKK20 million ($3.8 million) to university scientists for a project that will seek to develop ways to produce oligosaccharides naturally present in human breast milk. Copenhagen-based Danisco and Arla Foods, Viby, Denmark, will serve as industrial partners for the project and will contribute to the research program.

“Research in oligosaccharides from human milk is key to understanding the development of the immune system in newborn infants,” said Preben Bodstrup Rasmussen, R&D manager for Child Nutrition at Arla Foods. “Therefore the possibility to develop and manufacture such substances can lead to new and higher standards for commercial infant formula.”

Researchers aim to develop an enzymatic process to produce some of the key oligosaccharides, said Andrew Morgan, chief scientific officer at Danisco. Besides Danisco and Arla, the project will involve Technical University of Denmark, the University of Southern Denmark, the University of Copenhagen and the University of Reading in the United Kingdom.

It is unlikely the long-term project will achieve a direct commercial outcome in less than five years, Dr. Morgan said.

Jorn Dalgaard Mikkelsen, a professor at Technical University of Denmark, said, “Some of the substances in breast milk are oligosaccharides, which are believed to be prebiotic, i.e., they nourish the beneficial bacteria in the intestinal system and prevent harmful bacteria from establishing themselves. There are thousands of oligosaccharide structures present in human breast milk, and we need to determine which are the most effective.

“We plan to develop a way to produce these oligosaccharides using an enzymatic process that will convert certain kinds of food materials into the desired products.”

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