Fractioning milk for therapy

German scientists are using membrane technology to obtain antibodies from milk for medical and nutritional purposes. Ulrich Kulozik and Hans-Jürgen Heidebrecht from the Central Institute for Nutrition and Food Research (ZIEL) at the Technical University of Munich have developed a versatile key technology with which they can specifically enrich specific protein fractions that can be used both for antibiotic resistance and nutritional therapy.

Complex foods, such as milk, contain a large number of individual components that can be used for medical, nutritional or technological purposes, increasing their added value when compared to traditional products. A cross-industry innovation driver is a development application, which uses a milk protein fraction to produce specific immunoglobulins that can be used to target antibiotic resistance.

Making the milk protein fractionation more effective and efficient with microfiltration was the focus of a whole series of membrane separation technology projects based on a new microfiltration membrane concept. As a result, the selection of the diafiltration medium has allowed improvements in the efficiency of the entire process to be achieved, as well as target fractions of high functionality and purity.

With microfiltration membranes it is now possible to separate specific immunoglobulins from the milk and enrich them to such an extent that they can be used for medical purposes and as a substitute for antibiotics.

By actively immunising dairy cows, their antibody production is directed to the development of the specific immunoglobulins, which in turn can be used for the passive oral immunisation of humans.

In perspective, this approach to developing milk-based medicines can be used, wherever there is a delicate microbiome balance.

The new approach is pathogen specific and therefore does not alter the natural microbiome balance.

Further possible applications are the treatment of gastrointestinal diseases, bacterial skin diseases or caries. In addition, based on the results, protein isolates are now being produced, which are already being used or will soon be available in baby food and medical applications.

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