Cost-effective Upscaling of Cultivated Meat, an interesting challenge
Speaker: Mark Post - Prof. of Sustainable Industrial Tissue Engineering / Maastricht University / Mosa Meat
Since the start of scientific development of cultivated meat in 2005 major steps have been made to convert this medical technology into a food production process. Whereas some of the developments remain based on results and concepts derived from the far larger and better funded regenerative medicine research and pharmaceutical biotechnology, additional challenges force the cultivated meat society to pursue divergent routes. The unimaginable scale of cell/tissue production and need for low-cost production are challenges of technical and logistic nature. Not only rigorous optimization of existing processes but also novel scientific development is required to overcome these challenges, such as finding new nutrient sources for cell culture. Growth of astronomical numbers of mammalian cells require extensive upstream and downstream bioprocess development and perhaps innovation in bioreactor design. In addition to massive cell expansion, the cells need to form tissue. Biomaterials and coatings play a big role in this innovation, as will manufacturing. They are currently necessary as scaffolds for cell and tissue production, and their use will be extended when more complex tissues are being created. To reduce the cost of production, feedstock that is traditionally pharma-grade will be exchanged for food-grade substitutes and possible cruder hydrolysates. Consumer related challenges of a more ethical nature are also different between medical and food applications. The need for animal-component free culture of cells and tissues, abstinence of antibiotics and, for some consumers, genetic modification limit the solution-space available to developers of cultivated meat and for materials needed. At the same time, consumers are increasingly willing to accept alternative sources of meat, giving the field an appreciable tailwind.
Given the huge potential for improvement and extension of applied tissue engineering for food, this will be an exciting scientific endeavor for the next couple of decades.