Breastmilk research may lead to medical breakthrough

by David Stacey
Breastmilk research may lead to medical breakthrough

A researcher at The University of Western Australia has been awarded two major international grants to carry out further investigations into human breast milk.

Assistant Professor Foteini Hassiotou of UWA's Hartmann Human Lactation Research Group won an American Association of Anatomists Postdoctoral Fellowship to examine new horizons for regenerative medicine using stem cells.

She also won almost $900,000 from the Swiss group Medela AG to illuminate the life-giving properties of human milk.

Assistant Professor Hassiotou is an important member of international collaborations looking not only at lactation but also the potential of breast stem cells to be used as models in and to be harnessed in bioengineering and tissue regeneration.

She was lead author in two recent overseas-published papers investigating cells in .

"Technological advances in the last decade have allowed characterisation of breast milk cell types at the protein and messenger RNA levels," she writes in The Journal of Human Lactation. "This is now paving the way for investigation of the functions of these cells in the breastfed infant and the use of breast milk as a tool to understand the normal biology of the breast and its pathologies."

In the journal Stem Cells, Assistant Professor Hassiotou writes that "the mammary gland undergoes significant remodelling during pregnancy and lactation, which is fuelled by controlled mammary stem cell proliferation."

With her co-researchers, she found that breast milk provides a novel and non-invasive source of patient-specific . She also started further research into stem cell exchange between the mother and the infant during the breastfeeding period, something that is also known to occur between the mother and the embryo during pregnancy.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Breastmilk a natural stem cell therapy

Oct 19, 2011

Human breastmilk has the potential to help people suffering from diseases including Parkinson's disease and diabetes, according to a researcher at The University of Western Australia.

Fast-acting mothers' milk for healthier babies

May 23, 2013

Human breastmilk responds quickly to protect the child when there is an infection in mothers or babies, according to new international research led by The University of Western Australia.

Long-lived breast stem cells could retain cancer legacy

Jan 26, 2014

Researchers from Melbourne's Walter and Eliza Hall Institute have discovered that breast stem cells and their 'daughters' have a much longer lifespan than previously thought, and are active in puberty and ...

Recommended for you

Heart's own immune cells can help it heal

19 minutes ago

(Medical Xpress)—The heart holds its own pool of immune cells capable of helping it heal after injury, according to new research in mice at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Making lab-grown tissues stronger

29 minutes ago

Lab-grown tissues could one day provide new treatments for injuries and damage to the joints, including articular cartilage, tendons and ligaments.

The 'ultimate' stem cell

1 hour ago

In the earliest moments of a mammal's life, the developing ball of cells formed shortly after fertilisation 'does as mother says' – it follows a course that has been pre-programmed in the egg by the mother. ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.