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Metabolic engineer synthesizes key breast milk ingredient, makes research possible
Date:9/10/2012

to lactose. We solved that problem by inserting a gene from another organism," he added.

The next step was developing an E. coli mutant that can assimilate lactose. "Because the engineered mutant cannot use the lactose for its own growth, it instead uses lactose to make great quantities of 2FL, the HMO that many researchers want to study," he said.

Miller will soon be able to begin a study investigating the role of 2FL in infant nutrition and eventually make recommendations about whether it should be added to infant formula. "And we can use this technique to synthesize and study the hundreds of other HMOs in human milk too."

The research has other interesting possibilities unrelated to infant nutrition, he said.

Jin and Miller believe that their work has pharmaceutical applications. "Adding 2FL to the food of soldiers on deployment could keep them out of sick bay. More than half of all soldiers in the field are incapacitated at some point with diarrheal illness caused by Campylobacter jejuni," Jin said.

A second use might be reducing the number of Campylobacter infections that originate in raw or undercooked poultry. "If chickens consumed poultry feed containing 2FL, pathogens would bind to this oligosaccharide instead of the mucosal lining of the bird's intestine and be eliminated well before the chicken arrived at your supermarket," Miller added.


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Contact: Phyllis Picklesimer
p-pickle@illinois.edu
217-244-2827
University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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