Breastmilk research may lead to medical breakthrough

March 25, 2014 by David Stacey, University of Western Australia
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

Secrets of longevity protein revealed in new study

January 17, 2018
Named after the Greek goddess who spun the thread of life, Klotho proteins play an important role in the regulation of longevity and metabolism. In a recent Yale-led study, researchers revealed the three-dimensional structure ...

Weight flux alters molecular profile, study finds

January 17, 2018
The human body undergoes dramatic changes during even short periods of weight gain and loss, according to a study led by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

The HLF gene protects blood stem cells by maintaining them in a resting state

January 17, 2018
The HLF gene is necessary for maintaining blood stem cells in a resting state, which is crucial for ensuring normal blood production. This has been shown by a new research study from Lund University in Sweden published in ...

Magnetically applied MicroRNAs could one day help relieve constipation

January 17, 2018
Constipation is an underestimated and debilitating medical issue related to the opioid epidemic. As a growing concern, researchers look to new tools to help patients with this side effect of opioid use and aging.

Researchers devise decoy molecule to block pain where it starts

January 16, 2018
For anyone who has accidentally injured themselves, Dr. Zachary Campbell not only sympathizes, he's developing new ways to blunt pain.

Scientists unleash power of genetic data to identify disease risk

January 16, 2018
Massive banks of genetic information are being harnessed to shed new light on modifiable health risks that underlie common diseases.

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.