Agilent Technologies Inc.
(NYSE: A) today announced that a group of researchers from the University
of California, Davis, has made a significant discovery: human breast milk contains
an unexpected abundance of sugars that coats the lining of infants' intestines,
protecting it from noxious bacteria. Results of the research, which used Agilent
technology, were published in this month's Proceedings of the National Academy
of Sciences of the United States of America.
Agilent's high-performance liquid chromatography polymer chip (HPLC-Chip) and
quadrupole time-of-flight (QTOF) LC/MS technology provided researchers a new
view of the oligosaccharide (sugar) structures produced in breast milk across
stages of lactation among human mothers. Oligosaccharides are the third most
abundant component in breast milk and prior to this study were thought to have
no biological significance. HPLC-Chip/MS technology has enabled researchers
to identify more than 200 different human milk oligosaccharides structures,
which researchers have discovered are an important factor in the healthy growth
"This type of research has been performed and duplicated many times in
the past," said Dr. Carlito B. Lebrilla, co-author of the research. "However,
the new technology developed by Agilent made it possible to identify and quantitate
milk oligosaccharides providing new and important observations that could not
be obtained in the past.
Agilent commercialized the HPLC-Chip/MS concept in 2005, combining nanoflow
HPLC columns, connecting capillaries and a spray emitter into a re-useable,
credit-card-size device. This allowed the advantages of high-sensitivity and
low-sample consumption provided by nano LC/MS to be accessible to scientists
without the troublesome setup involving microvalve, fittings and capillary tubing
of conventional nano LC. The addition of high-resolution, accurate mass MS/MS
information from Agilent's 6500-Series Q-TOF LC/MS systems enabled researchers
to confidently identify sugar structures.
"This is truly a remarkable study, providing answers to questions many
in the scientific community have been researching for decades," said Rudi
Grimm, Ph.D., director of science and technology for Agilent's Life Sciences
Group. "As a leading partner to the academic community, we are both excited
and pleased that our technology enabled this breakthrough research."