Breastmilk research may lead to medical breakthrough

March 25, 2014 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.

Explore further: Breastmilk a natural stem cell therapy

Related Stories

Breastmilk a natural stem cell therapy

October 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.

Can genetic analysis of breast milk help identify ways to improve a newborn's diet?

June 4, 2013
The composition of breast milk varies from mother to mother, and genetic factors may affect the levels of protective components in breast milk that could influence a newborn's outcomes. The potential to perform genomic studies ...

Long-lived breast stem cells could retain cancer legacy

January 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 throughout life.

High levels of TRAIL protein in breast milk might contribute to anticancer activity

April 23, 2012
The benefits of breast milk are well known, but why breastfeeding protects against various forms of cancer remains a mystery. A new study in the Journal of Human Lactation found high levels of cancer-fighting TNF-related ...

Recommended for you

Researchers develop new method to generate human antibodies

July 24, 2017
An international team of scientists has developed a method to rapidly produce specific human antibodies in the laboratory. The technique, which will be described in a paper to be published July 24 in The Journal of Experimental ...

A sodium surprise: Engineers find unexpected result during cardiac research

July 20, 2017
Irregular heartbeat—or arrhythmia—can have sudden and often fatal consequences. A biomedical engineering team at Washington University in St. Louis examining molecular behavior in cardiac tissue recently made a surprising ...

Want to win at sports? Take a cue from these mighty mice

July 20, 2017
As student athletes hit training fields this summer to gain the competitive edge, a new study shows how the experiences of a tiny mouse can put them on the path to winning.

'Smart' robot technology could give stroke rehab a boost

July 19, 2017
Scientists say they have developed a "smart" robotic harness that might make it easier for people to learn to walk again after a stroke or spinal cord injury.

Engineered liver tissue expands after transplant

July 19, 2017
Many diseases, including cirrhosis and hepatitis, can lead to liver failure. More than 17,000 Americans suffering from these diseases are now waiting for liver transplants, but significantly fewer livers are available.

Lunatic Fringe gene plays key role in the renewable brain

July 19, 2017
The discovery that the brain can generate new cells - about 700 new neurons each day - has triggered investigations to uncover how this process is regulated. Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and Jan and Dan Duncan ...

0 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.