Can scientists grow breastmilk in a lab?
Can scientists grow breastmilk in a bioreactor? Multiple companies globally are now starting to receive millions of dollars to try. This article from The Atlantic, featuring HMF cofounder Dr Natalie Shenker alongside other academics, suggests money would be better spent in broadening access to screened donor milk and changing cultures to support mothers better.
The article makes no mention of how cells can be grown without antibiotics entering the product, or the energy requirements of scaling bioreactors to meet demand. But when you put these issues alongside the other arguments made, and consider how relatively small the cost of alternative, less technologically driven solutions might be, this is a heartbreaking diversion of much-needed resources. Investing in training, milk banking and lactation support services cost fractions of investment in biotech start up, but their benefits are enormous in both lives and resources saved.