Cellular agriculture: formulating growth media for cultured meat production
Cellular agriculture involves creating animal-based products from cell culture, rather than directly from animals. With traditional meat production accounting for 57% of all greenhouse gases from food production, cellular agriculture offers a solution for meeting the growing consumer demand for meat alternatives that are both ethical and sustainable.
To develop cultured meat, a growth agent that contains the essential nutrients to support the growth and proliferation of cells is needed. Traditional growth media contains fetal bovine serum, produced from the blood taken from foetuses in pregnant cows during slaughter. This poses an ethical barrier to ensuring mass-produced cultured meat can be truly animal- and slaughter-free. Additionally, this growth media ingredient for culturing animal cells is expensive, hindering its potential to ever be an affordable food source.
To help develop a novel, cost-effective, and ethical growth medium for cultured meat production, we worked with 3D Bio-Tissues, a biotech start-up and spin-out from Newcastle University that produces bio-equivalent tissues for clinical and cellular agriculture.
How CPI helped
- Using our robotic liquid handling systems, we developed and optimised an automated, high-throughput approach for screening a new class of bio-sustainable macromolecules with increased ease and efficiency.
- We rapidly determined the suitability of these macromolecules as media supplements for improved cell and tissue growth.
- Developed a high-throughput screening platform to test the impact of different macromolecules on promoting the growth of animal cells and tissues.
- Identified suitable macromolecules that boosted cell growth and increased cultured meat yields.
- Reduced the time required to create a growth media product ready for the commercial market.
3D Bio-Tissues has been able to create eco-friendly, chemically-defined, animal-free, and cost-effective growth media products – termed the City-Mix™ supplements – to support the commercial market. At present, five different types of City-Mix products are available, which address a range of cell types and applications.
When producing lab-grown meat, City-Mix is added to a bioreactor – along with cells that are extracted from a living cow using a single, painless biopsy – to increase the number of cells. These cells are then added to a cell bank, before being transferred to a ‘tissue bioreactor,’ which stimulates the cells to turn into the structured fibres that are found in muscles and cultured meat.
These City-Mix supplements will be more sustainable and cost-effective than media containing fetal bovine serum, meaning the cultured meat industry will benefit from considerably lower manufacturing costs, simplified supply chains, and increased productivity, whilst being more ethical and environmentally responsible by removing the need for animal-based supplements.
This innovation will help lab-grown meat to become a truly viable, ethical, and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional resource-intensive meat production.