Milk Protein Extraction at Quantec

September 2009

Isolating milk proteins for fighting mastitis in dairy cows and for human health

Milk proteins are the basis for a new product called IDP (Immune Defense Proteins) which have been developed in Waikato by Quantec.  Quantec's Rod Claycomb says the high value ingredient products have many human and animal health applications.  

Milk is a great nutritional food.  It contains all manner of components such as casein, sugars, fats. These can all be fractionated (or separated out) and proteins are one of these fractions.

Quantec originally began when the Hamilton-based DEC International wanted to add value on dairy farms in New Zealand by developing on-farm milk fractionation technology.

Usually fractionation is carried out at the factory, but Quantec has exclusive rights to various patents for fractionating milk on farm. This work hasn't been commercialised yet and they are looking for interested dairy groups with a "tolerance to risk" in order to make it happen.

Fractionation occurs by using plastic beads to bind specific molecules in the milk.  These are rinsed off in a salt solution, the salt is removed and the fraction purified.

Quantec's chief scientist Dr Judy Bragger was working on understanding the bioactive properties of the various fractionated milk components when she discovered this novel milk fraction.

A cow's mammary gland produces a suite of proteins which work together to provide anti-microbial protection for the animal.  There are estimated to be upwards of 50 or so proteins, present in very small concentrations.

In 2008 Judy and Rod brought out the business, and created their first product using this novel milk fraction.  It is called IDP (Immune Defence Proteins).

They have added other ingredients (they call activating compounds) to the protein fraction Judy isolated in the milk.  The end result is a natural ingredient that has been proven in a range of scientific experiments to have excellent immune defence properties.

It is freeze-dried and looks like milk powder. When stored in dry, cold conditions it remains very stable.

Derek Fairweather is CEO of Waikato Innovation Park, which currently has two large buildings hosting 45 companies.  Derek says Quantec was the Park's very first tenant to sign and move in, while the paint was still drying.  (They wore hard hats when they first moved in!)

Quantec's US distributor is talking to brand manufacturers who could include IDP in their consumer products things like lozenges, toothpaste, mouthwash, skin care products and dietary supplements.

Rod says IDP can kill the bad bacteria in your mouth, for example.  And they've also found IDP can be used as a non-antibiotic alternative for preventing mastitis.  Another good example of its use would be to replace antibiotics in skin-care applications for acne.

Currently Quantec wants to partner with companies to distribute their products.  At the moment the company has two full time employees, as well as a team of marketing consultants and manufacturers who are sub-contracted.

All the raw material is sourced from a dairy factory, and while they haven't had any orders yet, they hope to be exporting tonnes of product very shortly.

Rod says although he has not run across any other synergistic milk-derived protein fractions, there are a lot of naturally derived products on the market - such as extracts from cranberries or herbs, or manuka honey.  He says it's a big industry.

Rod says Quantec's product is unique.  "We are sourcing ours from milk, and coming from a country like New Zealand, with its pasture-fed cows, when we talk to potential customers, that's one of the things that gets them excited."

They have clinical trials underway now, but no peer reviewed publications.