Milk Oligosaccharides Project
Oligosaccharides are complex sugars composed of a variable number of monosaccharide – or single sugar – units and are among the most biologically diverse and important carbohydrates in biological systems. The aim of the Milk Oligosaccharides Project is to identify and chemically characterize the numerous oligosaccharides present in various mammalian milks, especially human milk. The use of advanced Mass Spectrometry has already allowed the identification of hundreds of oligosaccharides in human milk. Functional studies have shown that these molecules are able to act as prebiotics, encouraging the growth of a protective microbiota, and also act as decoys that inhibit the binding of pathogenic microbes to intestinal cells. The long term goal of the program is to develop milk oligosaccharides as a new class of biotherapeutic molecules for preventing infection in a number of high risk populations.