IRL help Synlait make medicinal milk
10 Oct, 2012
Earlier in 2012, Canterbury milk-powder manufacturer Synlait Milk announced the production of a new milk powder designed to assist people with sleep disorders.
Role of melatonin
Dubbed Synlait Night Milk, the powder is made from cows’ milk collected at night when the milk is supposedly loaded with the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. Both humans and cows produce this hormone during hours of darkness, with the hormone expressed in milk.
The night milk then undergoes specialised processing at Synlait Milk’s nutritional plant in Dunsandel.
Synlait Milk Research Manager Dr Simon Causer says that melatonin plays a key role in helping humans regulate day-night cycles. “By selectively collecting milk produced by cows during the night, we can create a 100% natural sleep aid.”
Clinical trials with insomnia patients
Having determined the feasibility of production and that the change of routine has little effect on the behaviour of the cows, the company is now setting about determining the effectiveness of the milk, with clinical trials involving a study group of insomnia patients.
The trials involve patients drinking a glass of Synlait Night Milk 30 minutes prior to going to bed. Various measures of sleep quality are taken during the course of the night to demonstrate the effectiveness of the product compared with conventional milk.
In July 2012, Crown research institute IRL announced they had been contracted by Synlait to develop new testing procedures that verify the levels of the night milk’s active ingredients, something Causer says will be important when it comes to achieving success in its target overseas markets.
“Because of our ongoing relationship with IRL and their world-class expertise in lipid and protein chemistry, they were the first people we spoke to for technical assistance in this area,” says Dr Causer.
For their part, IRL Industrial Biotechnology Account Manager David Kyle said in a press release, “It’s great working with such an innovative dairy company... who is quick to respond to future customer requirements and whose focus is on adding value to New Zealand’s dairy produce.”
Synlait Milk General Manager for Market and Product Development Dr Tony McKenna says products such as Synlait Night Milk command a substantial premium over conventional milk powders and offer a means of capturing additional value for Synlait Milk and its suppliers.
“We have identified a significant market for such products in Asia and Europe, with key consumers likely to be professional people, the elderly and international travellers, all of whom can experience a high incidence of sleep disorders.”
Get news story: New sleep-enhancing milk
- 10 October 2012