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From Breast to Bottle

After we shared about our ‘cell’ebrity lifestyle, we received lots of questions from our fans about what our journey is like from breast to bottle — it’s quite the trip.

If you’re a true fan, you probably already know that we mammary epithelial cells value being prolific, committed, secure, discerning, and expressive. Our core values reflect the key cell behaviors that the BIOMILQ scientists, our caretakers, are focusing on in their early-stage research as they create conditions for us to thrive as milk-makers.


Because BIOMILQ is all about transparency, we’ve been asked to share more details about our ‘cell’ebrity lifestyle — join us on our road trip from breast to bottle.

Because we aren’t needed before a hungry baby arrives, few of us exist until pregnancy-induced hormonal shifts signal that it’s time to proliferate(multiply) and commit to being mammary epithelial cells (MECs). Our journey starts with being collected from the breast tissue of a woman who cares deeply about BIOMILQ’s mission.


Stop #1: The first stop on our road trip is to the post office: we’re sent to Research Triangle Park, NC — as ‘cell’ebrities, we only travel first class.


Stop #2: Within 24 hours of being collected from the breast, our new caretakers need to make sure they are working with MECs and only MECs. Because our neighboring breast tissue cells may have accidentally joined us on our road trip, our caretakers use a cell sorter to separate us ‘cell’ebrities from wannabes who aren’t committed to making milk.


Stop #3: We then drive a bit more, listening to “Celebration” by Kool and the Gang, and arrive at our campsite for a few days (s’mores included, of course). We’re placed in a flask and fed cell culture media full of nutrients, which keeps us from getting dry (no sunburns allowed!) and satisfies our sweet tooth.


Stop #4: Multiplying can be hard work, so we value R&R just as much as the BIOMILQ team. Imagine us floating on inner-tubes, sipping culture media cocktails, in a river of culture media — life is good.


Stop #5: Like most road trippers, we get into fights and misbehave if we stay cramped in a small place together for too long. Our caretakers place our campsite under a microscope to check for confluence (coverage of the surface). Once they see that our campsite is overcrowded, they know it’s time for us to get an upgrade.


Stop #6: Since being secure is pretty important for milk-making, we’re separated into new flasks so that we can have some breathing room as we continue to multiply. Without expanding to additional campsites (aka passaging), there wouldn’t be enough of us to justify splurging on a bungalow.



Stop #7: Once our airbnb bungalow (bioreactor) has been prepared for our arrival, we’re placed in the bioreactor. We love it here because our caretakers have carefully designed the bungalow to resemble the environment of home sweet home in the breast tissue.


Stop #8: This microenvironment has a 3D structure similar to the physiology in the breast. We form a monolayer as we attach to the surfaces, which helps us feel secure and makes sure we all get our nutrients from one side (be discerning). The media continues to be pumped to us to keep us nourished — yep, it sounds like a breast pump.


Stop #9: Once there are enough of us, our caretakers add prolactin, the milk-making hormone we rely on in the body, to the cell culture media to give us the green light to be expressive: time to make milk.


Stop #10: Once we’ve made enough milk (rich in proteins, fats, sugars, vitamins, and minerals), it’s collected, tested, and ready to nourish a hungry baby.