Human Milk Oligosaccharides. Created by Nature. Brought to you by Glycom

What are Human Milk Oligosaccharides?

The magic ingredient in human breast milk 

HMOs have been researched for a long time as the "magic ingredient" in human milk composition. Pediatricians and microbiologists have been trying to understand the health benefits associated with human breast feeding and especially trying to characterize the highly abundant carbohydrates uniquely found in human milk. 

HMOs are unique to humans and core to human health. They are the 3rd largest component of mother's milk and no other mammal has anywhere near this concentration and complexity of structures in their milk.

human milk oligosaccharides

There are 3 classes of HMOs with more than 200 HMOs identified in human milk. Of those 200, 10 HMOs provide 75% of the HMO content.

Naturally occurring HMOs in human milk (mM)

Beneficial for infants, children and adults

HMOs are best described as complex carbohydrates that have been shaped over millions of years of human evolution to:

  • Shape a healthy gut microbiota by nourishing and stimulating the growth of desired bacteria1
  • Strengthen gut barrier by promoting intestinal maturation and function2
  • Improve immune function and reduce the risk of infections2
  • Reduce risk of allergy development and attenuate allergy symptoms3
  • Support brain and cognitive development1

HMOs is really the missing link in infant formula or the key difference between mothers milk and infant formula. Until recently no company has been able to synthesize them in commercial scale and cost allowing commercial use. 

Glycom is all about HMOs

At Glycom we have a deep understanding of HMOs and their impact on the human body through our preclinical and clinical research with more than 40 partners globally.

We currently offer HMOs from two HMO structural classes: 2'-fucosyllactose (2'FL), the most abundant fucosylated HMO in breast milk, and Lacto-N-neotetraose (LNnT), one of the most abundant neutral core HMOs in breast milk.

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Clinically proven to benefit infants

All our HMOs have been clinically tested in infants, children and adults. Research shows that infants consuming GlyCare™ 2FL and GlyCare™ LNnT had lower incidence of bronchitis, lower respiratory infection and medication use. In addition, the infant's gut microbiota came closer to that of breast feed infants4,5

... and the health of children and adults

The beneficial properties of HMOs make them attractive candidates for improving health and addressing conditions beyond their known functions in infants. We have clinically tested GlyCare™ 2FL and GlyCare™ LNnT in children and adults which have shown safety, tolerance, and digestive health benefits6. Furthermore, in children and adults, HMOs are expected to7:

  • Improve bifidobacteria abundance
  • Restore gut microbiota and metabolite profile
  • Relieve general digestive distress
  • Improve general quality of life

A wide range of potential applications of HMOs are therefore targets of further exploration...


[1] Bode, 2012, Glycobiology. 22, 1147–1162. [2] Donovan and Comstock, 2016, Ann Nutr Metab. 69, 42–51. [3] Sprenger et al. 2017. Eur J. Nutr. [4] Puccio et al., 2017, J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 64, 624-631. [5] Steenhout et al. 2016. FASEB J. [6] Elison, E., et al., 2016, Br J Nutr. 116, 1356-1368. [7] Vigsnaes and McConnell, 2016, abstract, 25th UEG week, Spain.

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Human Milk Oligosaccharides portfolio

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