Two major steps towards resolving the A2 milk debate

PhD candidate Davor Daniloski believes he has accomplished two world firsts in his quest to uncover the effects of milk proteins on human health.
Thursday 16 September 2021

Scientific and industrial communities have long been debating the impact of β-casomorphins from milk on human health. Are they friends or foes? Davor Daniloski, Walsh Fellow and PhD candidate at Victoria University and Teagasc (Ireland) believes he has accomplished two world firsts in his quest to find the solution. 

Cows produce milk with either A1 protein, A2 protein or a combination of both. It is believed that a theory began in New Zealand that A2 milk was better for human health than A1 due to the lower amount of liberated β-casomorphin peptides and A2 milk made its debut on Australian supermarket shelves in 2003.

The debate has continued with conventional milk being linked by some to non-communicable diseases, including type-one diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and neurological disorders. So far, despite excellent studies, there has been no convincing evidence that A1 protein has an adverse effect on humans.

“We published the first paper that comprehensively explains the pathway of β-casomorphin peptides. It has never been reported previously in the literature. The aim of the study was not only to answer the possible therapeutic and unfavourable effects of these morphine-related peptides. Its intent was also to address the fate of β-casomorphins in human and animal cells, tissues, and organs. We know that many countries, but especially Australia, have been dealing with this dilemma for a long time,” said Mr Daniloski.

Additionally, this week the team published an original paper that reveals the “skeleton” of conventional and A2 milk, thus making them the first in the world to dig deep into the structure of these milk genetic variants, which may provide an answer for their different functional characteristics.

“I am honoured to be guided from such great supervisors as Professor Todor Vasiljevic at VU and Dr Noel McCarthy at Teagasc,” he says.

Mr Daniloski said the team will engage deeply within their chosen field to understand the specific challenges the dairy industry faces and provide transformative solutions by leveraging the unique capabilities of Victoria University and Teagasc networks.

“The solutions will be built around one or a combination of research, development, extension, technology transfer and targeted training. The project is supported by a four-year strategic partnership between both institutions in Australia and Ireland,” he said.