BASF maintains HMO focus with UC Davis collaboration

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

BASF’s focus on human milk oligosaccharides (HMO) continues after the chemicals giant announces an academic collaboration with the University of California (UC), Davis.

The two-year partnership aims to develop second-generation HMO molecules as bioactive compounds that benefit the gut microbiome and beyond the gastrointestinal tract, such as brain health.

“BASF is expanding its portfolio in infant nutrition to HMOs,” ​explained Stefan Rüdenauer, global director of research and development and scientific marketing, human nutrition.

“The primary aim of the collaboration is to expand the scientific know-how on specific health functions of HMOs – both for infants and adults.

“While the scientific evidence around the HMO 2’-Fucosyllactose in early life nutrition is already well established, the health benefits and functions of other HMOs are less known.”

With the new partnership with UC Davis, the intention is to bring more scientific evidence on the function and health benefits of HMOs – including, but not limited to 2’-FL.

BASF’s contributions to the partnership include its proficiency in fermentation products and the development of human nutrition solutions, as well as project funding.

“The final aim is to identify the most relevant components to close the functional gap between formula milk and breast milk,”​ added Rüdenauer.

2’FL launch

The agreement compliments BASF’s launch of the HMO 2’-fucosyllactose (2’-FL) for infant nutrition announced earlier this month.

BASF’s team, based in Ludwigshafen, Germany has developed the ingredient in-house using a specific HMO fermentation strain with plans to launch the ingredient for the infant nutrition market by early 2019.

As well as infant-focused products, the use of HMOs in everyday nutrition was a distinct possibility.

Rüdenauer revealed that with BASF expanding in the HMO field, developing its entire HMO portfolio might extend to the use of these molecules in dietary supplements although its use as an API in pharmaceutical applications was outside of BASF’s focus.

The partnership is the second collaboration involving BASF and the UC Davis’ research team.

In November 2016, the two teams entered into a collaborative research agreement to investigate a microencapsulation technology designed to protect and improve the delivery of active compounds for applications, including industrial, agriculture and cosmetics.

“We are excited to partner with BASF to unlock novel HMO functionalities,”​ said Professor Daniela Barile from the Foods for Health Institute at UC Davis.

“This project will employ a range of microbiological and physiological studies employing cutting-edge glycomics and metagenomics tools to explore how HMOs interact with the human host and the microbes within them.”

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