British scientists aim to grow “real” steaks in a laboratory within 12 months in a global breakthrough for the first time.
The products would be indistinguishable from a high-end cut bought from a butcher and could one day even replace the need for farms, according to 3D Bio-Tissues (3DBT).
Company bosses say their technology allows them to produce 100 percent lab-grown meat – what they describe as “meat as you know it” – that could be on restaurant menus within five years.
The process uses cells taken from a healthy animal, such as a cow, which are then stored in a liquid agent before being transferred to a bioreactor to grow the steak.
Scientists take the cow’s cells and put the extracted DNA, not a special liquid
The resulting mixture is placed in a cell bank and then in a bioreactor that grows the “cuts of meat”
The final step in the process is to send the “meat” to the shop or restaurant for cooking
Unlike previous efforts, 3DBT claims their steak will be biologically and structurally indistinguishable from the real thing.
Scientist Dr Che Connon, CEO of 3DBT, said: “There are probably around 20 or more companies around the world working on different [lab meat] wait. But as far as we know, it is ground beef or other forms, but not cut whole. ‘
Geoff Baker, director of 3DBT’s parent company, BSF Enterprise, says the company’s technology could revolutionize food manufacturing. He said: “Cellular agriculture is the next most exciting technology to come. It will solve the food shortage, it will solve the greenhouse gases due to the reduction of meat from farms, it is the future of agriculture.”
Thousands of cells can be extracted from a live cow using a single painless biopsy. They are then placed in a bioreactor, where they are added to a chemical growth agent called “City-Mix”, which increases the number of cells.
These are then placed in a cell bank before being transferred to a “tissue bioreactor”, which stimulates the cells to transform into the structured fibers you find in your muscles. The company won’t reveal exactly what happens in the bioreactors to protect its intellectual property. But this is the stage that transforms the cells into the product that tastes and looks like a regular steak.
3DBT, born as a start-up working at Newcastle University, has already completed groundbreaking work making the world’s first human corneas, which it believes could restore the sight of millions of people.
Theoretically, the biopsies could come from any animal, from pigs to fish and chicken
Theoretically, the biopsies could come from any animal, from pigs to fish and chicken. It could also be used to make human skin and even muscle someday for grafts. Another area where seismic could make a difference is growing the meat or skins of exotic and endangered animals to stop some of the illegal wildlife trade.
That could mean making crocodile leather bags or replicating controversial delicacies.
Baker said, “If you think about shark fin soup, we can make shark fin and no one would recognize the difference.”
Thousands of steaks could be made from a single biopsy.
But such “Frankensteak” meat-making dreams are not without controversy.
Some researchers have warned that lab-grown meat may need so much energy that it causes more long-term climate damage than agriculture. However, the warnings do not take into account the increase in green energy sources or the fact that fewer cattle could significantly reduce methane emissions.
3DBT is not a food producer per se, but will instead provide the technology to other groups who can then grow the meat.
BSF Enterprise went public on the London Stock Exchange last week and is now worth £ 7.7 million.