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Infant Formula Evolves and Advances in Nutrition

March 25, 2020
Conagen develops unprecedented critical lactoferrin protein produced via fermentation worldwide

Bedford, Mass., March 24, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Conagen announced today the discovery and development of a sustainable proprietary lactoferrin protein that mirrors the nutritional properties of lactoferrin from breast milk. The first-of-its-kind natural lactoferrin protein is produced via fermentation process at commercial-scale.

Mother’s milk is the best nutrition because it is the ideal way to bind and deliver iron for infant nutrition, but it is not sourceable at large-scale. Yet, lactoferrin is necessary as it plays an important role in the newborn immune system and contributes to healthy infant digestion and nutrition.

Lactoferrin found in cow’s milk has been useful for producing certain specialized infant formula in many countries, but its performance is not optimal as it takes more time for the protein to bind with iron than breast milk and it is not sustainable. The nutritional needs of an infant could be even better met with proteins that more closely match those in breast milk, like Conagen’s lactoferrin.

Another supporting factor for Conagen’s lactoferrin is an increased consumer awareness of nutritional benefits in food, which is carrying over to the global infant formula market. As a result, manufacturers are embarking on designing formulations that closely replicate the composition of breast milk.

To meet both consumers’ demands and manufacturers’ quests, Conagen produced a lactoferrin by advanced fermentation for the use in infant formula and other nutritional products that can now be fortified naturally and sustainably worldwide.

“Nourishing the world’s children is a priority for infant formula manufacturers. We want to support them for providing a lactoferrin as similar to breast milk lactoferrin as is possible with a low cost sourceable solution,” said Vice President of Research and Development, Casey Lippmeier.

Conagen’s lactoferrin will give infant formula manufacturers a more scalable, sustainable, and lower cost-in-use solutions than sourcing from cow’s milk. In anticipation of FDA GRAS, manufacturers can begin testing the proprietary ingredient in the formulation processes. The powerful protein may also be used in pharmaceutical and dietary supplement applications too.

Consumer demand for infant nutrition products is growing and is expected to reach a global market value of $103 billion by 2026. In 2018, the global infant formula market size was valued at approximately $45 billion.

For more than half a century, infant formula has remained static until now when consumers are becoming more food and nutrition conscious.  The protein was first isolated from cow’s milk in 1939. Twenty years later, it was recognized as the main iron binding protein in breast milk, although different forms of lactoferrin are found both in cow’s milk and breast.

“The time has arrived to take a closer look at nutrition because it is such a critical part of our lives and the future of our children. Conagen is advancing in this space by developing functional and sustainable ingredients for improved human development and reduced environmental impact,” said Lippmeier.

Crucial to the natural development of a newborn’s immune system, lactoferrin is linked to linked several physiological and protective functions, including: anti-infective and anti-inflammatory activities, and as its name implies, regulation of iron absorption in the infant gut. The ingestion of lactoferrin in breast milk has a probiotic effect to the infant gastrointestinal system, which cannot be fully matched by bovine lactoferrin.

About Conagen
Conagen is an accomplished biotechnology company located in the greater Boston biotech corridor.

We innovate and develop synthetic biology solutions for supporting global partners across a spectrum of current and developing markets. 

From our proprietary strain development to fermentation and scaling up, Conagen impacts partners’ abilities to sell and market products in the food, nutrition, flavor and fragrance, pharmaceutical, and renewable materials industries.


Ana Arakelian Conagen +1.949.750.6812 ana.arakelian@conagen.com 


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