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Eurostars: Hospital with department for preterm neonates treatment and human milk donor bank sought to participate in study of human milk origin protein fortifier

Country of Origin: Switzerland
Reference Number: RDCH20210215001
Publication Date: 15 February 2021


A Swiss startup develops a device to concentrate protein fraction from human milk onsite in hospitals for premature infants with <1.5kg birth weight. They search for hospitals or milk donor bank for a Eurostars research cooperation for the study of the detailed composition of the fractions, demonstration of biosafety, hygiene and food safety of the ones for the preterm nutrition and to run a first trial to study the effect of novel protein fortifier for clinical outcomes of preterm neonates.


A Swiss startup is developing a novel device for human milk processing for infant nutrition. 

The device is aimed to answer currently open medical need of optimal protein intake, which preterm neonates with very low birth weight (<1.5kg) should receive daily.

To feed them by exclusively human milk-based diet, which is the most optimal diet for any neonate, the problem of protein deficiency of human milk should be answered. Being a golden standard of food for any neonate, the human milk physiologically cannot cover the special requirements of these neonates in increased protein content as x4 times more protein should be given to this neonate than human milk contains.

If the adequate content would not be provided, unavoidable delays in growth, weight gain and brain development can occur, hampering the rest of the life of the neonate.

To avoid such protein deficiencies, currently hospitals add additional protein content to the human milk, so called protein fortifiers. The origin of the fortifiers is usually cow milk, which is not optimal and introduces additional health risks to already vulnerable neonates.

The safest solution is to extract proteins from human milk and the Swiss startup likes to help hospitals to do so.

For this the company is developing the first automated device for protein extraction from human milk onsite. The device will be used in hospitals to improve current practices of preterm neonate nutrition. The research domains of the company are: health-tech, device development, food-tech, personalized health-care and med-tech.

The objective is to find a matching partner for a joint application to the funding program Eureka Eurostars.

Next tasks planned to be solved together:
• Study the detailed fraction composition obtained as result of enrichment and demonstrate the biosafety of the fraction for future oral administration to preterm neonates
• Investigate nutritional properties as well as immunological and bio-activities of fractions,
• To create the future protocol to give the fractions to the preterm neonates by optimal ways (volumes, stock protein concentrations, way to mix with human milk etc)
• Planning and conducting of future studies to demonstrate beneficial effects of the protein fraction obtained by the company to the health of preterm neonates

Criteria of the sought partner for the research cooperation:
• Located in Europe (not Switzerland)
• Preferably hospital with NICUs (neonatal intensive care unit) and/or human milk donor bank
• Technical university/applied sciences R&D institute is also possible
• Around 2-3 years programme duration

Eurostars supports international innovative projects led by R&D-performing SMEs.

The deadline for expressions of interests is 31 July 2021.

Deadline for the call: Second call in 2021.

Requested partner

Hospital with neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) where preterm neonates are treated and/or human milk donor bank, willing to make a testing of the device in hospital environment. Research institutes or universities with the focus on human milk research are also very welcome to approach.

-To see how convenient the process of human milk enrichment at hospital environment is (end-users)
-To analyze the nutritional characteristics of the enriched protein fraction by using standard human milk donor bank’s equipment (human milk analyzers)
-To demonstrate the biosafety of obtained fraction accordingly to standards applied to the human milk
-To plan and run studies showing effect of the nutrition by their fractions to the common health status of neonates, total hospitalization time, growth and weight gain

Cooperation offer is closed for requests