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Splash! Milk Science Update | International Milk Genomics Consortium

Keep up to date on the latest discoveries and news in milk science with our bi-monthly publication SPLASH!®

Current Issue #108

Issue Date: May 2022

MicroRNAs in Breastmilk Show Consistent Longitudinal Patterns during Lactation
By: Anna Petherick, Ph.D.

It is nearly thirty years since the discovery of the first microRNA. These non-protein encoding sections of RNA, typically in the region of 20 nucleotides long, are now understood to have important roles in gene regulation. And yet scientists are far from clear on how and when they work exactly, and novel assessments of which are involved in key biological tasks still breaking fresh ground. A recent sweep of the microRNAs found in breastmilk is one such study. In this case, an international team of researchers surveyed the most consistently occurring microRNAs appearing in breastmilk produced 3, 60 and 90 days after a full-term birth.

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Something to Bark About: Humans and Dogs Co-Evolved Adaptation for Lactose Digestion in Europe and the Middle East
By: Lauren Milligan Newmark, Ph.D.

Humans and dogs may be distant relatives on the tree of life, but they share very similar evolutionary stories. In high-altitude Tibet, humans and dogs have the same gene mutation that reduces physiological stress from low oxygen levels. In West Africa, both human and dog genomes show evidence of natural selection for a gene that provides protection against malaria infection. And now a new study reports European and Middle Eastern dog genomes, like those of their human companions from the same regions, are more likely to have a mutation that allows them to drink milk.

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Metabolites from Yogurt Protect against Type 2 Diabetes in Mice
By: Marina Wang

It’s no secret that type 2 diabetes is a widespread public health concern, with around 463 million people around the world suffering from the disease. Researchers have known for some time that yogurt consumption has a protective effect against the ails of type 2 diabetes, but the physiological and molecular mechanism behind this effect has been largely unknown. In a new multi-tiered study, researchers discovered that gut microbiota, as well as metabolites produced by the lactic acid bacteria in yogurt, help with type 2 diabetes in mice.

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Small but Mighty: Short-chain Fatty Acids in Human Milk Could Provide Protection from Development of Allergies
By: Lauren Milligan Newmark, Ph.D.

Short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) are small molecules with large impacts on human health. They are produced when gut bacteria in the large intestine break down indigestible dietary carbohydrates. But don’t be fooled by these humble beginnings. Once produced by beneficial gut microbes, SCFA can promote immunity by suppressing inflammatory responses in the gut, halting the growth of dangerous pathogens, and helping to maintain the integrity of the intestine’s epithelial barrier.

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