The layered cells are collected in laboratory-produced meat plates
McMaster researchers have developed a new type of meat that uses a method that promises a more natural flavor and texture than other alternatives to traditional meat from animals.
Researchers Ravi Selvaganapati and Alireza Şahin-Shamsabadi from the University’s Faculty of Biomedical Engineering have found a way to prepare meat by collecting transplanted muscle and fat cells grown together in a laboratory. The technique is adapted from a method used for tissue transplantation for human transplantation.
Layers of living cells, each one the thickness of a sheet of paper, are first grown in culture and then concentrated in growth plates before being peeled and stacked or folded together. The sheets naturally attach to each other before the cells die.
Selvaganapati says the layers are assembled into a solid piece of any thickness and are “adjusted” to replicate the fat content and ebrus of any meat – superior to other alternatives.
“We create meat plates,” he says. “Consumers will be able to get meat in the fat ratios they want – just like they do with milk.”
As described in the magazine Cells Tissues Organs, the researchers proved the concept by preparing meat from existing mouse cells. Although they did not eat the mouse meat described in the study, they later prepared and cooked a sample of meat from rabbit cells.
“It felt and tasted like meat,” says Selvaganapati.
There is no reason to think that the same technology will not work for beef, pork or chicken, and the model can lend well to large-scale production.
Researchers have been inspired by the growing global meat supply crisis at a time when current meat consumption is straining land and water resources and creating alarming levels of greenhouse gases.
“Meat production is not sustainable at the moment,” says Selvaganapati. “There has to be an alternative way to create meat.”
Researchers have noted that the production of live meat without raising and harvesting animals will be more sustainable, more sanitary and less wasteful. Although other types of cultivated meat have been developed in the past, McMaster researchers believe that they have the best potential to create products that consumers will accept, like and provide.
Researchers have set up a start-up company to start commercializing the technology.
Reference: “Engineering of motor adipocytes and skeletal muscle cells in meat-like structures using a self-assembled layer biofabrication: a platform for the development of cultivated meat” Shahin-Shamsabadi A and Selvaganapati PR, January 13, 2021, Cells Tissues Organs.
DOI: 10.1159 / 000511764