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Research Call

DAFM Reference


DAFM Award

DAFM National Call 2015 15F721 UCC (Teagasc) €600,308

Project Title:

The relation between the Human Milk Microbiome, Composition and Infant Nutrition (INFAMILK)

Project Coordinator:

Prof Alan Kelly

Project Abstract

Human breast milk (HM) is the Gold Standard feeding regime for newborn infants and represents a baseline for the functional performance of infant formulae. While many milk constituents – for example oligosaccharides, immune cells, and microbes – have been studied for decades, new analytical approaches, research findings, and paradigm shifts are rapidly providing new insights as to how they might impact both maternal and infant health. Moreover, interdisciplinary work is beginning to shed light on how these factors might be interacting in both the mammary gland and the infant’s gastrointestinal tract, and influencing the development of the gut microbiota. Establishment of the intestinal microbiota commences at birth and it plays a major role in maturation of the immune system, protection against pathogens, and the long-term metabolic welfare of the infant. In terms of infant health, it is imperative to understand how early infant nutrition influences the development of a healthy gut microbiota. This project will investigate milk compositional analysis of a large number of lactating mothers from initiation of lactation following giving birth to end of lactation (6 weeks minimum) and will include proteomics, metabolomics and the HM microbiome and will involve computational approaches to understand its complexity, effectors, and functions, as well as the analysis and role of host cells (immune and otherwise) in HM. The relationship between milk constituents and infant health will also be explored, as will the emerging area of milk genomics. Interestingly, no studies have yet been reported to reveal the evolving composition and functionality of HM over lactation, coupled with infant health and development including gut microbiota in infants exclusively fed breast milk, using next generation sequencing. The objective of this platform study is to define the composition, functional performance and microbiome of breast milk over time, using state-of-the-art analytical technology, and correlate findings with gut microbiota composition, using NGS in infants exclusively fed breast milk. The findings of this Platform Study will inform Infant Milk Formula manufacturers as to essential baseline composition, with which to compare and tailor different formulations and ingredients to mimic the biological effects of human breast milk. Thus, the project will provide new opportunities for optimisation of infant milk formula composition, with appropriate new bioactive ingredients such as milk fractions, probiotics and prebiotics to effectively programme the early infant gut microbiota in a manner resembling that of mother’s milk. In addition, the work will directly benefit Irish companies producing next-generation ingredients for IMF applications.

Final Report:

Not available yet.