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So far cultured meat has been burgers – the next big challenge is animal-free steaks

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Cultured meat technology is still in the early phases of research and development. But already bioengineers are taking on the next tougher challenge: growing structured cuts of meat like a steak or a chicken cutlet.

NATALIE R. RUBIO: ‘With cell biology and tissue engineering, it is possible to grow just muscle and fat tissue. It’s called cultured meat. Scientists provide cells with the same inputs they need to grow, just outside an animal: nutrients, oxygen, moisture and molecular signals from their cell neighbors.

So far researchers have cultivated bunches of cells that can be turned into processed meat like a burger or a sausage. This cultured meat technology is still in the early phases of research and development, as prototypes are scaled-up and fine-tuned to prepare for the challenges of commercialization. But already bioengineers are taking on the next tougher challenge: growing structured cuts of meat like a steak or a chicken cutlet…

Animal cells alone can replicate most of the meat experience. But without blood vessels and connective tissue, you don’t end up with an organized, three-dimensional tissue – and that’s what you need for structured cuts of meat, like steak, chicken breast and bacon.

To overcome this challenge, scientists can use biomaterials to replicate the structure and function of blood vessels (for nutrient and oxygen transfer) and connective tissue (for organization and texture). This area of research is called scaffold development…

It’s always exciting to see startup companies debut their cultured meatballs, sausages and burgers. But I’m looking ahead to what’s next. With a bit more research, time, funding and luck, the cultured meat menu 2.0 will include the steak and pork chops many carnivores know and love’. SOURCE…

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