Scientists from the University of Nottingham’s School of Biosciences in the UK have obtained stem cells from livestock, a discovery they claim paves the way for “manufacturing cell cultured meat and breeding enhanced livestock”.
The researchers – in collaboration with the Universities of Cambridge, Exeter, Tokyo and Meiji (Japan) – have developed a stem cell line from pigs, sheep and cattle without the need for serum, feeder cells or antibiotics.
A company statement said: “The technical disadvantages to using serum include its undefined nature, batch-to-batch variability in composition, and the risk of contamination so this new chemically defined approach provides greater consistency and safety, making it an ideal solution for manufacturing new lab-grown food products.”
The research, titled “Pluripotent stem cells related to embryonic disc exhibit common self-renewal requirements in diverse livestock species,” was published in the Development journal, and received funding from BBSRC, EU (ERC), MRC and Wellcome Trust.
Research lead, Ramiro Alberio, said: “The ability to derive and maintain livestock stem cells under chemically defined conditions paves the way for the development of novel food products, such as cultured meat. The cell lines we developed are a step change from previous models as they have the unique ability to permanently grow to make muscle and fat.”
The stem cell lines can differentiate into multiple cell types, which can then be genetically manipulated using the Crispr/Cas9 gene editing tool. The technology could help expand research into gene editing animals to improve productivity, adaptation to climate change, diet modifications and the environmental impact of livestock production.
Alberio added: “Gene editing in this way makes modifications that could happen naturally over a long time but in a selective a rapid manner to customize specific traits. This can accelerate the pace of genetic selection of livestock and cultured meat to improve productivity and creation of healthier foods. With a growing population to feed in a changing climate finding reliable and sustainable food is vital. This research offers potential solutions that the food industry could use at scale.”
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2022
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