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Pork grown in a lab nearer to reality

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By Rod Addy+

16-Feb-2017
Last updated on 16-Feb-2017 at 19:31 GMT2017-02-16T19:31:12Z

Firms are increasingly avoiding the term 'lab-grown meat' in favour of 'clean meat' or 'cultured meat'
Firms are increasingly avoiding the term 'lab-grown meat' in favour of 'clean meat' or 'cultured meat'

Lab-grown pork has moved a step closer to reality with the publication of fresh research on the topic.

Scientists from the University of Missouri, the University of Maryland and the Animal Bioscience and Biotechnology Laboratory, US Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service are behind the work. Their findings have been published in the article Enhanced development of skeletal myotubes from porcine induced pluripotent stem cells, in the journal Scientific Reports.

The piece outlines “a means for generating skeletal muscle efficiently from porcine induced pluripotent stem cells (piPSC) in vitro”, according to the abstract. It provides “a versatile platform for applications ranging from regenerative biology to the ex vivo cultivation of meat”.

Skin grafts

One of the main driving forces for the stem cell experimentation has been the impetus to explore skin grafts using tissue from animals with close similarities to humans.

The method discussed uses GSK3B inhibitor, CHIR99021, in combination with DNA methylation inhibitor 5-aza-cytidine to help stimulate the growth of pork muscle.

Stem cells from larger animals, including pigs, have traditionally been difficult to generate, according to the researchers. However, “the molecular control mechanisms directing porcine skeletal muscle development have considerable implications for medicine, agriculture and food technology”, the article adds.

Study details

Source: Scientific Reports 7, 41833

Published 6 February 2017, doi: 10.1038/srep41833 (2017)

‘Enhanced development of skeletal myotubes from porcine induced pluripotent stem cells’

Authors: Nicholas J. Genovese, Timothy L. Domeier, Bhanu Prakash V. L. Telugu & R. Michael Roberts

According to Bruce Friedrich, executive director, Good Food Institute, bosses at advanced food firms engaged in such projects are avoiding the term ‘lab-grown’ meat, preferring to talk about ‘clean’ or ‘cultured’ meat .

In July last year, Tel-Aviv business SuperMeat announced a crowd funding campaign to raise investment in technology to make lab-grown poultry.

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