Autonomous human milk factory arrives in U.S.

20 Sep 2021

108Labs announced it will build a ‘Cellfacturing’ facility to produce the startup's cell cultured human milk. The factory will operate using a proprietary artificial intelligence platform to produce this cultivated milk at scale.

Located in Hillsborough, North Carolina, the factory will be dedicated to innovation using raw medium ingredients and validated cell lines. At first, 108Labs will work to scale the company’s Colostrupedics “whole-human” infant formula through end-to-end production including both manufacturing and packaging.

Autonomous human milk factory arrives in U.S.

Within the factory, 108Labs intends to automate milk bioreactors that maintain and harvest milk developed through a bioprocess using mammary gland cells. The machinery will then automatically package these products within a closed system for pathogen-free production and "sterile delivery from bioreactor to mouth."

Currently, the factory is in pilot design, and 108Labs is proving its hardware and software concepts to show it can handle its target capacity of one ton of milk production per day in the initial launch phase. While the timeline is fluid on when this factory will be operational, company CEO Shayne Giuliano previously told Nutrition Insight that the company is aiming for its whole-human infant formula to be available in commercial retail sites in three to four years. Long term, the company’s goal is to replace bovine milk for infants globally with human milk by 2040.

Selling cultured human milk, however, will require production costs to significantly decline. While production costs remain the main hurdle to produce this cultured infant formula at scale, this new factory will reduce production costs by beyond 99%, Giuliano said in a statement. Currently, lab-grown milk costs close to $1,000 per oz to produce and 108Labs’ goal is to reduce those costs to $1 per ounce, industry publication Nutrition Insight reported.

Not only will this factory serve as a proof-of-concept for the viability of cultured human milk as a replacement for formula and animal-derived alternatives on Earth, but ”we need to show it’s possible to make milk everywhere and anywhere. We even want to show this system can make milk on Mars for the first colonists,” Giuliano told Nutrition Insight.

As a first step, this U.S.-based factory will need to support a continuously scalable design in order to ensure that the bioreactors creating human milk are able to operate in a sustained fashion. To achieve this 108Labs is developing the algorithms and AI that will maximize cell production capacity and harvest schedule by maintaining the continuous automatic operation the bioreactors.

When this pilot factory is completed and proved to be operational, 108Labs said it intends to construct additional Cellfacturing facilities globally.

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