Growing Meat in a Vat

by F.

From The Economist’s Technology Quarterly:

Robert Dennis, a biomedical engineer at the University of North Carolina, believes the secret of growing healthy muscle tissue in a laboratory is to understand how it interacts with its surroundings. In nature, tissues exist as elements in a larger system and they depend on other tissues for their survival. Without appropriate stimuli from their neighbours they degenerate. Dr Dennis and his team have been working on these neighbourly interactions for the past three years and report some success in engineering two of the most important—those between muscles and tendons, and muscles and nerves.

At the Touro College School of Health Sciences in New York, Morris Benjaminson and his team are working on removing living tissue from fish, and then growing it in culture. This approach has the advantage that the tissue has a functioning system of blood vessels to deliver nutrients, so it should be possible to grow tissue cultures more than a millimetre thick—the current limit.

Henk Haagsman, a meat scientist at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands, is trying to make minced pork from cultured stem cells with the backing of Stegeman, a sausage company. It could be used in sausages, burgers and sauces.

Supersize the article here.