A team of Harvard bioengineers took a major step in taking cultured meat from lab to table.
Researchers successfully grew cow and rabbit meat from an edible gelatin base for the first time, creating a substance that successfully mimicked the texture of natural meat, according to a new study.
Engineers have tinkered with bioengineered meat for years, taking stem cells from animals and growing and multiplying them until they divide and form new muscle tissues.
But previous attempts to grow environmentally friendly meat found it difficult to recreate the long, stringy muscle fibers that make up meat.
For their research, the Harvard team borrowed from a carnival food favorite and spun edible fibers made of gelatin using rotary jet spinning, a process similar to how cotton candy is made. The fibers resemble natural tissue’s “extracellular matrix”–the “glue” that binds tissue.
The rabbit and cow cells anchored to the gelatinous bases and grew similarly to real meat in long and thin strips. Compared to the tissue of natural rabbit muscle, the protein of the bioengineered meat looked pretty similar, though its tissue distribution more closely resembled that of processed meats like ground beef than unprepared meat.