Could milk be part of the future of pharmaceuticals? Dr Grace Lewis is an Assistant Professor of Food Science at UW-River Falls. While there is all kind of research going on across the UW looking at ways to improve dairy, her research is different. Instead of improving dairy products, she is looking at how dairy can improve other products.
In the lab at UW- River Falls Dr Lewis is digging into casein, the most abundant protein found in fluid milk. They are looking at ways the protein can be broken apart and reassembled, which allows for adding other compounds such as vitamins or medicine. The process allows the added components to be encapsulated in the protein. Lewis says that by figuring out how to use casein in this way, the greater demand for dairy is increased and opens new revenue sources.
One potential holdback for this research is that there is a percentage of the population that does have an allergy to dairy products. However, Dr Lewis points out that the majority of people that have an allergic response from dairy are actually allergic to one of the other proteins and not the casein. While her research right now is looking at all of milk, in the future the focus will be on using casein.
When looking at the future of milk, Dr Lewis has a lot of excitement when it comes to dairy protein. She notes that dairy is the second most complete source of protein, and demand for protein in diets continues to increase. She hopes to see her work add to developing products for not only pharmaceuticals, but also value added products such as infant formula.
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