The study by researchers from the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (MIPS) at Monash University has been published in the journal Angewandte Chemie.
Researchers believe this self-assembly process might be key to releasing the nutrients in human breast milk to ensure an infant’s healthy development.
The findings, which show for the first time the structure of human breast milk during digestion, could potentially be used to develop new food supplements and nutritional formulas that are easily digested.
Funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC) and led by Dr Stefan Salentinig and Professor Ben Boyd from MIPS, and in collaboration with the Mercy Health Breastmilk Bank, the team looked at the nanostructure of milk to gain new insights into how milk interacts with the digestive system.
Lead researcher Professor Ben Boyd said while the nutritional value of human breast milk and other types of milk are well known, little research has been conducted into the detailed structure of milk during digestion and how the fats in milk interact with the digestive system until now.