Ginkgo Bioworks will use biotech to boost baby formula’s gut-health properties

A new partnership will use biotechnology to bring baby formula closer to mothers’ milk, Good Day BIO reports.

Ginkgo Bioworks announced yesterday it’s partnering with infant nutrition company NAMUH (“HUMAN” spelled backward) to make infant formula containing oligosaccharides, a prebiotic that builds gut health.

Human Milk Oligosaccharides (HMOs) are vital nutrients that resemble fiber and are only found in human milk. They serve as a key source of energy for the good bacteria in newborns’ guts. HMOs are now the least-common ingredient in infant formulae, despite being the third most common component in human milk.

The goal of NAMUH is to develop a complete infant formula that is molecularly identical to human breast milk.

By collaborating with Ginkgo, NAMUH will be able to:

  • produce a variety of HMOs through yeast fermentation,
  • bring infant formula’s nutritional value considerably closer to that of human breast milk, and,
  • take advantage of Ginkgo’s experience in yeast strain engineering and fermentation process development.

“We believe engineering biology is the perfect way to produce crucial nutrients for babies, and together with Ginkgo, we are excited to play a key role in improving how future generations are fed,” said Dr. Chaeyoung Shin, Founder and CEO at NAMUH.

What is Ginkgo Bioworks?

Ginkgo Bioworks, a member of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), is the leading horizontal platform for cell programming, providing flexible, end-to-end services that solve challenges for organizations across diverse markets, from food and agriculture to pharmaceuticals to industrial and specialty chemicals.

Ginkgo’s synthetic biology platform uses digital technology like machine learning to “build and test organisms at a massive scale.” The company has harnessed yeast fermentation to make everything from an improved sweetener to cleaner indigo dye to fragrances to new protein sources to more-potent cannabis.

“Countless families around the world rely on infant formula every day, and we are thrilled to be working with NAMUH as they aim to create a healthier, safer formula that parents can depend on,” says Jason Kelly, CEO and Co-Founder of Ginkgo Bioworks.

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