Production of Human Milk Oligosaccharides in Planta

The inventors have demonstrated human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) can be generated in transgenic plants, expressing a variety of genes used in nucleotide sugar biosynthesis and HMO biosynthesis. Production of human milk oligosaccharides in plants has not been presented previously and has advantages over current production methods.


Some companies are able to make simple human milk oligosaccharides though fermentation using E. coli and yeast; however, this method has limited yields and is unable to make complex human milk oligosaccharides.

By producing complex HMOs in transgenic plants instead, this invention makes it possible to generate the bioactive component of human milk at an agricultural scale.

Potential Applications

This technology can be used to:

  • supplement infant formula with complex HMOs
  • provide researchers with complex HMOs to conduct research on their bioactivity, and
  • eventually, help treat diseases in adults.  

HMOs are produced in breast milk and have important roles in infant health and development. Infant formula is lacking in these important bioactive molecules.

There is also promising early evidence for HMOs as a novel strategy to treat diseases in adults, such as inflammatory bowel disease.

Contact Information

Name: Laleh Shayesteh


Phone: 510-642-4537