12 January - 20 June 2016

Exciting possibilities thanks to new data on the structures formed by milk during digestion

02 July 14

New formulas for premature babies, drug delivery systems, and weight loss drinks may be on the horizon thanks to recent insights into the unique structures of milk and its behaviour during digestion.

A study from researchers at Monash University has furthered our understanding of the complex structures that arise in milk during the digestive process, and their interactions with the digestive system. The paper - titled 'Formation of highly organised nanostructure during the digestion of milk' and recently published in the Journal ACS Nano - detailed the by-products of milk digestion and revealed their highly ordered geometric nanostructure, similar to a sponge, which may enhance digestion and the absorption of milk's healthy fats. The enzyme lipase in the body breaks the fat molecules into small and highly organised components, which enables fats, vitamins and lipid-soluble drugs to cross cell membranes and reach the circulatory system. This detailed study of milk nanostructures was possible thanks to specialised instruments and techniques, such as time-resolved small-angle X-ray scattering on a high-intensity synchrotron source and cryogenic transmission electron microscopy.

One potential application of this knowledge is in the development of milk containing fat soluble vitamins and nutrients for brain development, which could be given to premature babies. Other possibilities are drinks that produce an enhanced feeling of fullness, and novel methods of delivering drugs in the human body. The next steps towards achieving these potential new products will be researchers collaborating with nutritionists to better understand dietary outcomes, and design new medicines. [Daily Mail, DairyReporter, Futurity, ScienceDaily]

Lipids analysis at RSSL

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