Growing meat without animals may one day become easier using scaffolds made of soy, a new study finds.
In 1932, Winston Churchill predicted that “We shall escape the absurdity of growing a whole chicken in order to eat the breast or wing, by growing these parts separately.” Increasingly, scientists are making this vision a reality by growing meat from cells in labs.
To grow larger structures that could mimic products such as steaks, edible 3-D scaffolds are needed to provide mechanical support to developing cells. The researchers seeded the scaffolds with three kinds of cells from cattle: satellite cells, endothelial cells and smooth muscle cells. Satellite cells are precursors to skeletal muscle cells, the kind most often thought of as meat.
We shall escape the absurdity of growing a whole chicken in order to eat the breast or wing, by growing these parts separately. - Winston Churchill
Smooth muscle cells can help generate extracellular matrix scaffolding to support other cells. As expected, growing satellite cells with other cells enhanced muscle growth and the development of extracellular matrix compounds, leading to more meat-like mechanical properties.
According to Post, future research can seek to incorporate fat cells into this cultured meat for taste and texture, and fine-tune how marbling and fibrous tissues are interspersed in lab-grown muscle.