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Chimeric Milk Antibodies Bind More Pathogens

By: Lauren Milligan Newmark, Ph.D.
Issue #12 | Date: 03 2013

If antibodies were superheroes, then human milk secretory immunoglobulin A (sIgA) would be “The Avengers”, taking on the pathogens no single superhero could stand. Milk sIgA is able to protect infants against a multitude of respiratory and gastrointestinal pathogens, including E. coli, salmonella, and pneumonia. But perhaps its greatest known power comes from its unique molecular structure—two IgA molecules held together by a joining chain (J) and a secretory component (s)—allowing sIgA to resist degradation by gastrointestinal enzymes. This makes it one of the few immune factors at the front lines able to bind bacteria and viruses before they attach to the infant’s gastrointestinal tract.

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Fermentation of the Future

By: Anna Petherick, Ph.D.
Issue #12 | Date: 03 2013

Using populations of bacteria or yeasts to change dairy product composition doesn’t sound like a wholesome idea, but that is what lies behind the production of cheese, mango lassi and, despite its name, crème fraîche. Some fermented dairy products such as these have been shown to be healthy in ways beyond providing nutrition. Consequentially, food scientists are asking whether the processes that conjure up greater amounts of certain health-promoting ingredients in fermented dairy could be applied more widely and effectively.

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A Hearty Helping of Dairy

By: Anna Petherick, Ph.D.
Issue #11 | Date: 02 2013

Most people know they hike the odds of developing cardiovascular disease by incessantly puffing on cigarettes and by eschewing the gym in favor of the TV. Stuffing saturated fats down one’s gullet is another well-known risk factor, leading to an increase in low-density lipoprotein in the blood and thus to clogged arteries. On that basis, dairy products seem unlikely protectors of a healthy heart. But various studies suggest they might be just that, particularly—and bizarrely given its high fat content—cheese.

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To Secrete or Not to Secrete

By: Daniela Barile, Ph.D., Danielle G. Lemay, PhD
Issue #11 | Date: 02 2013

On a cruise ship with a Norovirus outbreak, the chance of becoming infected is largely determined by a single gene: FUT2. Likewise, a mother’s “secretor status”—whether or not she secretes certain protective sugars in milk—is determined by this same gene. Want to know more about FUT2 and the protective sugars in mother’s milk?

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Hormones in Mother’s Milk Influence Baby’s Behavior

By: Katie Hinde, Ph.D.
Issue #11 | Date: 02 2013

Mammalian young are not just passive creatures allocating mother’s milk solely to survival and growth. The calories young need to be behaviorally active, from the hesitant romping of the young foal to the arm-waving, ear-splitting tantrum of a newborn baby, come from mother’s milk (Hinde and Capitanio, 2010). But other bioactive constituents in mother’s milk, namely hormones, may also influence HOW the infant behaves.

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MicroRNAs in Milk

By: Peter Williamson, Ph.D.
Issue #11 | Date: 02 2013

Small things remain invisible unless one knows to look for them. Case in point: tiny RNAs. What are they? Why are they in milk? Are they good for the consumer?

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Milk: Not just for moms, not just for mammals

By: Katie Hinde, Ph.D.
Issue #9 | Date: 12 2012

Last month was Movember, during which men grow facial hair to raise awareness of men’s health. I started thinking about milk moustaches and realized you can’t have a milk moustache if you don’t have lips. I guess we won’t be seeing pigeons in any upcoming dairy ad campaigns- even though they make “milk,” and it functions like the milk of mammals. “Pigeon milk” was first systematically described in the 1930s and continues to intrigue dairy scientists through today.

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Milk lymphocytes battle HIV

By: Ross Tellam, Ph.D.
Issue #9 | Date: 12 2012

Contagious viral diseases have been the scourge of mammals ever since mammals first emerged some two hundred million years ago. There has been an arms race ever since, with viruses evolving new mechanisms to invade mammals, and in response, mammals evolve new counteractive defense strategies. The success of these evolutionary countermeasures is evidenced by our current existence, but the conflict continues.

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Milk promotes oral health

By: Anna Petherick, Ph.D.
Issue #9 | Date: 12 2012

In almost every European language, milk has lent its name to the first teeth that people develop. But the association between milk and teeth is much more than linguistic, as a series of papers published this year demonstrates. Researchers from Denmark and Australia have reported that cow’s milk helps to reduce the impact of bacterial species known to contribute to the development of cavities and gum disease. Another group in Sweden has found breast milk to have similar properties.

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Milk glycan cures metabolic disease (in mice)

By: Danielle G. Lemay, PhD
Issue #9 | Date: 12 2012

What do human milk and parasitic worms have in common? It sounds like an opening to a joke, but the answer reported in Nature Medicine is seriously cool. Both human milk and parasitic worms contain an unusual glycan that improves insulin resistance and reverses fatty liver disease in a mouse model.

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Designer cows may help improve human health

By: Ross Tellam, Ph.D.
Issue #8 | Date: 11 2012

Designer jeans are fashioned to suit the individual needs of each human body shape. A good pair of well-cut jeans makes all the difference–they can be tailored to make a person comfortable at an informal BBQ, or a theatre premiere. The versatility of the primary design of jeans allows a good fit for one and all, and this is the key to their perpetual success. Like jeans, the same basic design for milk is used by each mammalian species; milk is formulated differently to suit the specific needs of the young of each species.

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Human milk contains PLURIPOTENT stem cells

By: Katie Hinde, Ph.D.
Issue #8 | Date: 11 2012

Last month during the Bi-Annual Meeting of the International Society for Research in Human Milk and Lactation in gorgeous Trieste, Italy, one could hear a pin drop when Dr. Foteini Hassiotou presented her and colleagues’ ground-breaking work on human stem cells in breast milk.

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Buttermilk as a source of protective glycolipids

By: Daniela Barile, Ph.D., Hyeyoung Lee
Issue #8 | Date: 11 2012

Is fat really bad for you? Or could some fat actually be good for your tummy? The common answer might be, “That’s impossible.” But is it? It turns out that one type of milk fat only recently being studied may actually be beneficial for intestinal health.

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Gems from the 2012 IMGC Symposium

By: Danielle G. Lemay, PhD
Issue #8 | Date: 11 2012

Couldn’t make it to the meeting in Wageningen this year? Still wandering about the Ede-Wageningen train station? Fear not! SPLASH contains the important take-home messages.

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Do the math – cow burps are profound!

By: Ross Tellam, Ph.D.
Issue #7 | Date: 10 2012

In some societies, burping in public is considered very bad manners, often evoking a silent, disapproving frown or, if at home, a strong verbal reprimand. Sometimes burping alone gives immense personal satisfaction – a job well done. In more enlightened societies, a guttural burp is the ultimate complement, a mark of appreciation for excellent food. Human burps are, in the grand scheme, socially important, but in reality, quite innocuous. However, the same is not true for cow belches.

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Proteases vs. antiproteases: The battle over milk digestion

By: Daniela Barile, Ph.D., David Dallas, Ph.D.
Issue #7 | Date: 10 2012

Surprisingly, milk protein digestion begins in the mammary gland, long before the milk is consumed. There, a battle rages between enzymes called proteases, which break down proteins, and antiproteases that act as shields by protecting other proteins from being completely digested. The result of this competition is a delicate balance of intact protein and partially digested protein segments.

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The evidence around raw milk

By: Anna Petherick, Ph.D.
Issue #7 | Date: 10 2012

Is unpasteurized (or raw) cows’ milk good or bad for you? It’s a simple question with vociferous and opposite answers depending on who you ask. Agencies of the United States federal government, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), point to numbers that link consumption of the stuff to a heightened risk of tummy bugs and worse. Meanwhile, activists make pasteurization seem outright dangerous and raw milk sound like a wonder food. Is it?

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Boy milk vs. Girl milk

By: Katie Hinde, Ph.D.
Issue #7 | Date: 10 2012

At the grocery store, there are formulas for infants with very low birth weights, soy-based formulas for infants with dairy allergies, and low-sodium formulas for infants who need restricted salt intake. Should there also be Boy Formula or Girl Formula? The answer is…maybe. Recent research has shown that mothers make different milk for sons and daughters

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When fat is fabulous: Milk & infant neurodevelopment

By:
Issue #6 | Date: 09 2012

Fat is back, baby! After a pretty extensive smear campaign, fats are now recognized necessities for a healthy, balanced, adult diet. But for infants, fats have always been an essential constituent in mother’s milk and formula. Fatty acids are critical structural components of the brain.

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How dairying shaped the human genome

By: Ross Tellam, Ph.D.
Issue #6 | Date: 09 2012

Something amazing happened about 10,000 years ago – humans developed organized agriculture, profoundly influencing the emergence of civilizations in many regions of the world. This past year has seen an explosion of revelations as scientists exploit the power of DNA sequence information to discover the genetic adaptations of humans to dairying.

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Tales from an often-ignored community

By: Anna Petherick, Ph.D.
Issue #6 | Date: 09 2012

Breast milk contains bacteria. That much is known. Some studies (although not, alas, the Human Microbiome Project) have even characterized the bacterial community found in milk. But how does the composition of such a community vary among women? And how might it change over the course of lactation?

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The new frontier of milk quality and nutrition

By: Daniela Barile, Ph.D.
Issue #6 | Date: 09 2012

Lights, camera, action! If you wandered onto a set filled with cameras, mass spectrometers, and detectors that enable scientists to see fragments otherwise invisible, you may believe this is an episode of Crime Scene Investigation! In reality, this is the scene of the new frontier of milk analysis.

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What comes next

By: Anna Petherick, Ph.D.
Issue #5 | Date: 08 2012

Keeping funding agencies and researchers properly in the loop, Peggy Neville, who recently retired from the University of Colorado, Denver, has published a review in which she and her coauthors run through four key research priorities in the field how the components of breast milk effect an infant’s growth and health, how they impact an infant’s brain and behaviour, some key issues of mammary gland biology and, finally, how milk research can help infants born pre-term to obese or undernourished moms.

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Milk-fed bacteria’s secret weapon

By: Daniela Barile, Ph.D., Danielle G. Lemay, PhD
Issue #5 | Date: 08 2012

If a bacterium walks into a Bar & Grill, what does he order to eat? If there are any simple sugar molecules on the menu, such as glucose, galactose, or mannose, then he’ll order a plate of them. But given these simple sugars are the first choice of pretty much any type of bacteria, the Bacteria’s Bar & Grill is likely to run out quickly.

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