CHINA – Danone is set to introduce a new infant formula in China this year, featuring milk droplets designed to closely resemble the structure found in human breast milk.

Gregg Ward, VP (of Science Nutrition and Digital Health, China, North Asia & Oceania) and Head of Danone Early Life Nutrition and Danone Open Science Research Center made this announcement during the Growth Asia Summit 2023 held in Singapore.

The development of this new infant formula, inspired by biomimicry, is set to mimic the composition and structure of human breast milk which offers numerous advantages for optimal infant growth, brain and eye development, reduced susceptibility to infections and illnesses, and a lower risk of allergies.

Ward explained that human milk contains milk fat globules of approximately 4 µm in size, encapsulated with a phospholipid membrane.

In contrast, standard infant formula milk droplets are much smaller (about eight to 10 times smaller) due to processing methods like spray drying, and they lack the phospholipid membrane found in human milk fat globules.

He noted that Danone’s new formula, referred to as Nuturis, is designed to replicate some of the structure of human milk fat globules, featuring larger droplets (around 0.4mm) encapsulated with a phospholipid layer similar to the milk fat globule membrane in human milk.

Research, including preclinical and human clinical studies, suggested that Nuturis can be digested more similarly to human milk, potentially offering benefits such as improved metabolic outcomes and growth comparable to breastfed infants.

“The formula has also demonstrated safety, tolerability, and cognitive development benefits.”

Ward highlighted that Danone invested over a decade of research into understanding the human milk fat globule, focusing on both its composition and physical structure.

He added that the company is now planning to launch the Nuturis-based infant formula in China later this year.

Additionally, Danone has applied its knowledge of human milk bacteria in the development of its Aptamil infant formulas, incorporating a blend of probiotics and prebiotic oligosaccharides called Syneo.

This blend includes the use of Human-Residential Bifidobacteria (HRB) breve M-16V probiotics, known for their natural occurrence in the human gut.

The formula also contains a specific ratio of short-chain galacto-oligosaccharides (scGOS) and long-chain fructo-oligosaccharides (lcFOS) in the form of prebiotics.

Studies conducted by Danone, such as the Qilin and Dragon studies, have demonstrated that the Syneo blend could increase the abundance and diversity of beneficial gut bacteria in infants. The Dragon study is still ongoing, with further insights expected.

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