Using Escherichia coli to Produce Human Milk Oligosaccharide Lactodifucotetraose

Tech ID: 32384 / UC Case 2021-606-0


Researchers at the University of California, Davis have developed a method for producing human milk oligosaccharide lactodifuctotetraose (LDFT) using E. coli.

Full Description

Mother’s milk contains various oligosaccharides, which offer diverse health benefits to infants. Many of these oligosaccharides are not present in most manufactured infant formula products sold globally. Thus, in situations when feeding an infant formula is the preferred caregiver option, it is important to consider adding key oligosaccharides found in human milk to formula milk. However, current methods to produce the desired oligosaccharides – such as extracting them from human milk or producing them with purified enzymes – are either expensive or have proven difficult to scale.

Researchers at the University of California, Davis have developed a method for producing one key oligosaccharide - lactodifucotetraose (LDFT) - using a non-pathogenic strain of Escherichia coli (E. coli). E. coli cannot produce LDFT naturally. However, researchers have engineered E. coli to express several key enzymes that then allow the E. coli strain to efficiently convert lactose and fucose to LDFT. This process can produce LDFT economically at an industrial scale. This same approach can also be used to produce other human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs).


  • Production of the human milk oligosaccharide LDFT for use as an infant formula additive or a functional food additive 
  • The same approach can be used to develop other engineered E. coli strains capable of producing other HMOs


  • Much lower production costs than current methods – which often require costly added cofactors 
  • Scales readily

Patent Status

Country Type Number Dated Case
United States Of America Published Application 2024011064 01/11/2024 2021-606


Learn About UC TechAlerts - Save Searches and receive new technology matches


  • Atsumi, Shota
  • Bai, Yuanyuan
  • Chen, Xi
  • McArthur, John
  • Yu, Hai
  • Zhang, Angela X.

Other Information


Human milk oligosaccharides, Escherichia coli (E. coli), infant formula, lactodifucotetraose, LDFT, Mother’s Milk, Probiotics

Categorized As