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New Zealand Spends $1.25 Million  on A2 Milk Research

2018-10-31 13:28 Wednesday


In 1993, Bob Elliott was a maverick pediatrics professor at the University of Auckland, who was interested in studying how the disease states in children could be attributed to nutritional differences.

He noticed that casein, which accounts for one-third of milk protein, actually has different structures and types. Furthermore, there is a faint relationship between the incidence of metabolic disease in some children and casein.

From Hypothesis to Practice

As a pediatrician, Professor Elliott proposed the concept that "there is a difference between two subtypes of milk".

The main ingredient in milk protein is casein, and about a third of casein is β-casein which has three molecular structures, A1, A2, and B. The term "A1 milk" refers to a type of milk that contains the A1 β-casein. "A2 milk" is milk that contains only the A2 β-casein.

The difference between A1 and A2 lies in the 67th amino acid; A1 is a histidine and A2 is a proline. During protease digesting casein, A1 β-casein is cut into a polypeptide consisting of 7 amino acids, known as beta-casomorphin-7( or bcm-7), while A2 is not easy to be cut and bcm-7 is not formed. Bcm-7 has been proved to interact with many cells and tissues, which can possibly lead to intestinal inflammation.

difference between A1 and A2

Transforming Technology into Commodities

According to Elliot's research, both human milk and goat milk are A2 β-casein type. Cow milk is also A2. However during the domestication process, the cows that produced A1 milk appeared and eventually became dominant.

Currently, global dairy cows generally contain A1 genes, and A2 milk sources are relatively rare. The issue of producing A2 milk on a large scale is therefore challenging.

In 2000, Elliot's colleague, Professor McClanland, was looking into how to introduce A2 milk to the market.

Elliot and McClanland discovered a technique that uses DNA to identify cows that produce only A2 β-casein milk. By identifying and reproducing these cows, they were able to obtain full A2 β-casein milk and name the milk "A2 milk."

A2 milk

Market Entry and Verification

A decade after A2 milk entered the market, research on A2 milk has become increasingly sophisticated, now tracking the positive effects of A2 milk.

In 2016, the government of New Zealand set up a fund called the “High Value Nutrition Project” to improve public health and nutrition, investing $1.25 million on a study to determine whether A2 milk has a positive effect on the digestive system.

The study was led by Professor David Cameron Smith, Professor of Nutrition at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, who submitted the results at an international conference.

Preliminary findings suggest that gastrointestinal symptoms  of some individuals with self-diagnosed lactose intolerance may be associated with A1 β-casein in milk, rather than the lactose itself.

Furthermore, Chinese scholars are curious about whether A2 milk can improve gastrointestinal condition.

On April 20, 2016, the Nutrition Journal, a leading British publication, published the first study on lactose intolerance relief through A2 milk consumption in China. The study showed that ordinary milk (containing A1 casein) was more likely to cause gastrointestinal inflammation and delay intestinal transport than A2 milk, and the blood index of immune response to such inflammation is significantly increased, whereas the cognitive function of the drinker is reduced.

This means that an individual's symptoms of lactose intolerance after drinking milk can be relieved by drinking A2 milk rather than special lactose milk, that is, other alternatives are available.

In 2017, the Nutrition Journal published another paper by Chinese researchers. The article detailed a randomized controlled study involving more than 600 volunteers from different cities , which found that  the gastrointestinal health of those participants who drank only A2 β-casein is much better than those who drank normal milk.

In 2017, Dingxiangyuan (a Chinese medical forum) and Pulse Health & Wellness invited doctors from across China and around the world who claimed to have symptoms of dairy dyspepsia to participate in a trial on whole A2 protein milk. More than 97% of doctors believed that the gastrointestinal discomfort had disappeared or subsided.

Consumption Upgrades Start with Health

As Chinese consumers become more aware of dairy products containing A2 protein (without A1 protein), research in the field of A2 casein will continue to advance.

In a media interview, Peter Nathan, A2's CEO for the Asia Pacific, stressed that "respecting science and the Chinese market is the strategic weapon of A2's rapid growth".

By virtue of cutting-edge research, healthy A2 β-casein dairy products, in addition to its abundant natural milk sources in Australia, the A2 Milk Company hopes to provide new options for Chinese consumers, many of whom previously had no inclination to consume dairy.

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