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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!®

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Current Issue #120

Issue Date: May 2024

Complement Proteins in Milk Promote Healthy Gut Microbiome
By: Lauren Milligan Newmark, Ph.D.

Complement proteins were so named because they act as immunological sidekicks to antibodies and other immune cells. Like Robin creating a diversion to help Batman take down the villain, complement proteins from the bloodstream help antibodies identify and attack bacteria. Unlike Robin, however, complement proteins can occasionally destroy bacteria or other pathogens on their own. As a part of the innate, or non-specific, arm of the immune system, complement proteins are one of the body’s first lines of defense in preventing infection—no superhero antibodies needed.

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Gut Microbes Boost Dairy Tolerance in Adults Lacking Lactase
By: Brittany T. Truong, Ph.D.

Approximately 70% of adults across the world are lactase nonpersistent (LNP), meaning they cannot digest the milk sugar lactose [1]. They lack the lactase enzyme, which breaks down lactose into glucose and galactose in the small intestine. Without lactase, the milk sugar travels through the gut to the large intestine, where bacteria then ferment the sugar, producing gasses that can cause abdominal cramps, bloating, and flatulence.

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No Downsides to Donor Milk for Extremely Premature Infants
By: Jyoti Madhusoodanan, Ph.D.

A typical human pregnancy lasts 40 weeks, and at least 37 weeks of gestation enables a baby’s lungs, heart, and other organs to form and function. Babies defined as ‘extremely premature’ – being born before 29 weeks of gestation – are at high risk of disorders because their organs are immature. They are also at higher risk for sepsis, hemorrhage, and the life-threatening intestinal infection necrotizing enterocolitis, which kills up to 50 percent of affected babies.

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Amphibian Species Responds to Offspring’s Demands for Milk
By: Alla Katsnelson, Ph.D

A worm-like, egg-laying amphibian is the latest addition to the list of animals that produce milk to feed their young, according to a new study in Science [1]. The researchers observed that in the two months after hatching, the young of this species, Siphonops annulatus, crowded around the mother, consuming a secretion produced from her body. The hatchlings also emitted sounds that appeared to act as signals to elicit its production.

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