Saturday, April 19, 2008

Stem Cells in discovery????

Supposedly, a researcher from Australia, Dr. Mark Cregan, just discovered (2008) that there are stem cells in breastmilk. I choked on the news...According to the news report it is a world first discovery. Hm.......
In 2001, I wrote and talked about stem cells in human milk. I wrote about it in Lactnet (a professional listserve for lactation consultants) and I spoke about it in two Florida La Leche League Conferences (2001 and 2002). Funny, I never got asked back to speak--I know I am not the greatest public speaker. The topic of patenting of human milk was banned on Lactnet--yes where oh where is free speech in the USA? Then I got kicked off Lactnet....I ruffled too many feathers regarding funding, human milk research, and human milk banking. I tend to look at it as discrimination or blackballing an individual because of the way they think but I suppose the rest of my profession considers it good riddance to a person who makes others very uncomfortable. It was made quit clear to me that I was being very effectively silenced.
I have seen my research/my writing posted about the internet. In some cases, rather shockingly verbatim with another name attached to my writing. So I am now under the impression that my hours and hours of research is worthwhile to some people, but my name isn't. I always liked my name but I guess I have an ego problem (said to me a few years ago). I admit to an ego :) Yes, water over the bridge, que sera....sera
Anyway, back to stem cells and Dr. Mark Cregan. This isn't a new discovery--just finally being made public. Of course, the question is why is it being made public now? Not sure. I do know that Dr. Mark Cregan and Peter Hartmann are co-inventors to European patent # PCT/CH03/00846 called "Method for isolating stem cells from mammary secretion." They also share another patent with several other inventors called, "Use of a breastpump."
The dates on the patents are 2003. But I believe it has been well-know for years that the mammary gland has totipotent stem cells. Dolly, the cloned sheep, was made in part from a sheep mammary cell. For some years there have been educational conferences around the world on mammary stem cells. We have over 2000 human milk component patents and applications. Researchers and industry are very aware of the potential of human milk. Monopolization creates a world of secrecy. Secrecy means that few consumers understand the real risks of infant formula feeding. And few medical professionals realize the risks because most information is bought and paid for by you-name-it corporation.
Copyright 2008 Valerie W. McClain


  1. I, for one, miss your posts on Lactnet a great deal. Thanks, Valerie.

  2. I just did a literature and patent search, and the only authors to publish on the topic of stem cells in breast milk are the authors on this paper (2007) and their patent (2003), plus some others who did a commentary in JHL in 2006, suggesting stem cells may be in breast milk (which may have been prompted by seeing the patent). All other literature on mammary stem cells relates to tissue from biopsies not breast milk.

    You may have talked about this concept prior to these ideas being raised and the evidence being published in the medical literature, and all credit to you for having foresight. However, these authors are definitely the first to show the evidence, and so you may have done an injustice to them with your comments.

    I heard Mark Cregan talk about this topic recently in Australia. It was a great talk and apparently he is also presenting on it at ILCA in July. If you are going perhaps you might be able to talk to him directly about these issues.