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Human Milk Oligosaccharides: Current Research Activities and Challenges
August 4, 2020 @ 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Presented by Prof. Dr. Clemens Kunz on Tues, August 4, 2020.
In recent years, the interest in human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) is exploding primarily due to the breakthrough in manufacturing HMOs on a large scale which can be used for commercial purposes. Hence, we are at the beginning of a new era in infant nutrition, supplementing infant formula with oligosaccharides occurring naturally in human milk. Although currently only a few HMO are available, the number is steadily increasing. To differentiate between HMOs naturally occurring in human milk and identical but commercially produced components a differing denomination for the latter should be given. The interest of the biotech and dairy industry as well as infant formula companies is enormous which raises many questions with regard to the scientific evidence supporting HMO supplementation, the selection and doses of specific components and the outcomes that should be looked at. As commercially produced HMOs may not be available to or not be used by all companies, there are great efforts to find new strategies to bring the composition of infant formula closer to that of human milk in terms of its oligosaccharide composition. Recently, HMOs have often been described as “galactosylated oligosaccharides“, a definition which is not appropriate as it disregards more important characteristics of HMOs not common to other “galactosylated oligosaccharides“ named as GOS or GOS/FOS. However, it alleviates strategies to add those non-human milk oligosaccharides to infant formula. It seems that the topic “HMO“ is often not only confusing the scientific community but, and even more importantly, commercial strategies may mislead parents looking for an alternative for their child if not breastfed.