SIgA what, SIgA who?

Shayne Giuliano
7 min readMar 8, 2021


What would you do if you dreamed up a way to save the world?

Feed the hungry. Slow global warming. End animal cruelty.

Reduce preventable deaths from bacterial and viral infection, including 3,500 babies who may preventably die today.

What would you do?

Spend your life savings and put everything on the line for a chance to create a better future?

That’s what I thought, too.

Direct image electron microscopy of 108Labs’ first secretory Immunoglobulin IgA

Milk and Antibodies, Oh My

500 million years ago evolution created antibodies.

310 million years ago evolution created milk.

8 years ago I dreamed of milking cells.

1 year ago I dreamed of creating secretory antibodies.

Then all my dreams came true.

First SDS-PAGE proof of 108Labs’ cell cultured whole-human milk

Now, 108Labs introduces Colostrupedics™ whole-human infant formula with secretory antibodies!

108Labs’ Colostrupedics™ whole-human infant formula with secretory IgA packaging


To 108Labs, “whole-human” ingredients are fully-human ingredients synthesized in human cells for human consumption.

Whole-human means human protein sequences, human post-transcriptional modifications, human glycans, and human molecules.

With Colostrupedics™, 108Labs hopes to inspire a new whole-human ideal in infant formula!

SIgA what?

SIgA stands for Secretory Immunoglobulin A.

SIgA is a special class of antibodies that protects any tissue exposed to air. SIgA biosynthesis has previously proven too difficult and costly to attract investment as a drug substance — yielding no SIgA yet approved by the FDA.

This is where 108Labs comes in.

Direct EM image of 108Labs’ first batch secretory IgA dimers, 0.005ug/mL dilution

108Labs solved SIgA by discovering a novel method to biosynthesize whole-human secretory antibodies suitable for infant formula and drug substances!

The problem with SIgA is its complex biosynthetic pathway involving multiple cell types combining four distinct proteins and one cleaved protein fragment into one super SIgA antibody.

Because of SIgA’s monstrous size, you can see the conformational complexity in 108Labs’ first batch of secretory dimers isolated and directly imaged by electron microscopy.

Stare at it long enough and you’ll see the hinging behavior secretory antibody oligomers exhibit, like two dancers moving around the room.

Oligomers deserve investment

Healthy human bodies will make more secretory antibodies today than almost any protein in the world. SIgA protects us from pathogens in the air we breathe and the food we eat.

SIgA’s odd and complex biosynthetic secretory pathway is what makes secretory biosynthesis so difficult, and also what makes 108Labs’ secretory antibodies so special.

Secretory antibodies are always oligomers — complex proteins created with two, four, or even five distinct antibodies chained together, unlike monomer IgG — the smaller primary therapeutic antibody class in use today for FDA-approved blood-circulating formulations.

SIgM is another secretory antibody class 108Labs is developing, leveraging 5-fingered beasts naturally able to grip newly-confronted pathogens in the early immune response to novel pathogens. 108Labs SIgM may become an ideal antibody for preventing emerging pathogens from starting pandemics.

In the body, SIgM does not evolve highly-neutralizing antibodies, but imagine 108Labs’ engineered 5-fingered whole-human neutralizing secretory antibodies with human milk glycans!

SIgA vs Covid

After 108Labs discovered novel secretory antibody biosynthesis — which coincided with the onset of the Covid pandemic in early 2020 — we pivoted to explore Covid-neutralizing secretory antibodies as a therapeutic substance. In early 2020, we partnered with SIgA researchers who study Covid antibodies and our Covid work continues apace with exciting news coming soon.

Secretory antibodies have special qualities not found in IgG due to their monstrous size and flexible bodies, such that the same antibody sequence in secretory antibodies can take on super neutralizing abilities in the body compared to IgG, as was demonstrated against Covid last Fall by Yang Wang et al. (2020).

108Labs is also developing the first gastrointestinal antibody-neutralizing drug substance with human milk molecules and secretory antibodies, attacking a known reservoir of Covid infection.

New possibilities with whole-body antibody formulations

108Labs has a vision for the first whole-body antibody therapeutic regime, combining polyclonal whole-human IgG, IgA, SIgA, and SIgM into targeted side-by-side mucosal and blood-neutralizing formulations to attack pathogens in all reservoirs of infection.

108Labs’ full-body antibody therapy

A life lost to pathogen infection is the most preventable death using medical science, and therefore the most tragic outcome that demands the best possible medicine.

108Labs believes the world must increase investment in secretory antibodies and whole-human infant formula to save lives with infant nutrition and therapeutics, and 108Labs hopes to lead the way!

Cellular Agriculture 2.0 is a revolutionary movement

Cell culture has produced ingredients and medicine for many decades. Cells were first used for cellular agriculture in World War I to produce starch and acetone for explosives.

Since then, relatively few cell types have produced products with many amazing cells still awaiting their chance to save the world!

108Labs’ mammary cells preparing to feed and heal

Cellular agriculture 2.0 is poised to change the world by leveraging many new cell types to produce food, medicine, and other goods.

What if we didn’t need to cut down a tree to make wood for our houses? What if we could grow meat or leather in a lab to eat and wear without sacrificing cows?

What if any cell type could be used to produce goods, food, and medicine without needing to be grown in organisms?

Could we invent new ways to nurture and protect and reduce the impact of food production and deforestation on climate change? Could the cows stay out to pasture if we succeed?

Why not try?!

The birth of Mammary Cell Agriculture

Curiosity and disruptive creativity fueled 108Labs to create things with cells.

Throughout 2013, 108Labs co-founders Shayne and Leila brainstormed on things to make with cells — a process we eventually named Cellufacturing®.

The day we acquired our first lab in Research Triangle Park, we awoke with thoughts on meat and leather pilot projects.

Leila and Shayne in their first cell culture Research Triangle Park lab space

While discussing reagents and equipment to acquire for our new old lab, we brainstormed which tissues to pick up from the slaughterhouse kill floor to study cell-cultured meat and leather.

We agreed we should screen many tissues to seek cells that yield the best meat or leather.

Then I asked “What other cow cells could we use?” — like one asks on the way to the market — before quickly answering one inspired question with a fateful curiosity: “How about milking cells?”

We never talked about meat or leather again, realizing immediately that 108Labs was born to pioneer mammary cell agriculture.

By noon the next day — despite her more conservative nature as a scientific thinker — Leila declared, “We are going to culture mammary cells and make milk!”

As a mother who struggled and persevered to produce milk for Levi and Violet, Leila immediately understood the impact cell-cultured milk could have on babies and mothers.

State of Mammary Cell Agriculture

Though 108Labs is emerging from stealth today, you may have heard about our science before. 108Labs’ first data showing Lactose-Casein biosynthesis was announced by Leila under the name Biomilq in Feb 2020.

108Labs first indication of successful scalable mammary cell agriculture by Casein and Lactose analysis.

The Lactose-Casein announcement went viral and was picked up by major media, inspiring a new field of mammary cell agriculture to quickly emerge.

Other companies quietly focused on mammary cells quickly announced funding for their own approaches to mammary cell agriculture, including the original Biomilk, which emerged from an Israeli academic group with deep knowledge of bovine milk.

Then TurtleTree Labs emerged from Singapore and announced seed funding soon after the Lactose-Casein announcement, before winning the biggest startup pitch competition in the world in 2020.

Last Fall, 108Labs raised its first angel investments from SSC Ventures after self-funding mammary cell agriculture R&D until the Casein-Lactose proof of concept.

Then Leila raised a seed round from Breakthrough Energy Ventures at Biomilq, Inc to focus on personalized infant nutraceuticals — recently named by Wired as best in parenting at CES.

Finally, Bettermilk formed in Canada last fall to join the party.

Future of food and medicine

There’s a race to define the future of mammary cell agriculture, and human health can benefit from a relay instead of a sprint.

Today, 108Labs hopes to lead the way forward with Colostrupedics™ whole-human infant formula with secretory IgA!

108Labs couldn’t be more excited by the emergence of mammary cell agriculture inspired by our Casein-Lactose result, produced at leased-by-the-hour lab benches rented at UNC Chapel Hill’s NCore.

A Simple Wes and Lactose Kit result inspired an emerging field of mammary cell agriculture that attracted $20 million in investment worldwide in the last 12 months.

108Labs hopes to define the cutting edge of mammary cell agriculture and secretory antibody formulations for the next 20 years and is excited to help create a better future by Cellufacturing® of Colostrupedics™ whole-human infant formula with secretory IgA!
Cellufacturing® since 2013
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Shayne Giuliano

Pioneering mammary cell agriculture since 2013. Developing Colostrupedics™ whole-human infant formula with secretory antibodies.