Human milk oligosaccharides: a hot topic at the Nutrition and Growth conference in Paris


Einerhand Science & Innovation BV

Almost every major infant formula producer who was present at the Nutrition and Growth conference in Paris in March either highlighted human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) at their booth or presented HMOs research in talks or on posters. It is a fascinating area of research which over the last couple of years led to new product launches in different countries around the world. Up until the mid-nineties about 15 papers were published each year on HMOs, but last year the number has increased more than 7-fold and it is expected to increase even further. Here I summarize some of the findings that were presented in Paris.

In one of the first sessions, Dr Bernd Stahl talked about the complexity and functions of HMOs. Virtually nothing is known about the importance of the molecular complexity of HMOs for binding and biological function. There are more than a 1000 HMO structures of which only 162 have been elucidated so
far (1). Dr Stahl highlighted 3 functions of HMOs: 1) the prebiotic function by stimulating the Bifidobacteria in the gut, 2) the immune function by directly interacting with dendritic cells and 3) the anti-infectious function by act ...