What if the formula you bought at the store was just bottled breast milk?
First came the prototypes of lab-grown burgers and lab-grown Wagyu beef (or, as the industry calls it, “cultured” meat.) Then came ice cream made with lab-grown dairy proteins. Now, a handful of startups are working on lab-grown breast milk.
Last week, a five-month-old startup called Biomilq announced that it had succeeded in growing two key components found in human milk—lactose and casein—from mammary cells in a bioreactor. They’re looking for a solution to a widespread problem: Breastfeeding is linked to healthy development in children, but the majority of mothers aren’t able to breastfeed for some, if not all, of the recommended six months. Formula, made with nonhuman proteins that can be harder for babies to digest, is an imperfect alternative.