According to a news statement issued by the National University of Singapore (NUS) on Monday, researchers there have developed a new method of producing synthetic meat by zapping animal cells. The innovative method will decrease dependency on animal products while also being more environmentally friendly, hygienic, secure, and economical.
Using other animal products
Using other animal products is a necessary part of the process used to produce lab-grown meat today, which largely defeats the goal. Animal cells must be given animal serum to grow & proliferate in the current cell-based meat manufacturing processes.
Worse, this serum is typically composed of foetal bovine serum, which is a mixture harvested from the blood of foetuses excised from pregnant cows slaughtered in the dairy or meat industry.
The use of medications or genetic engineering, which are both complex and potentially harmful, are other ways to stimulate cell proliferation. The commercial viability of cell-based meat is hampered by these difficulties, which raise the cost of lab-grown meat alternatives & limit the manufacturing scale.
In order to overcome this obstacle, a multidisciplinary research team under the Associate Professor Alfredo Franco-Obregón, from the NUS Institute for Health Innovation & Technology and the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, developed a novel technique that involves the use of magnetic pulses to stimulate the growth of cell-based meat in order to cultivate myogenic stem cells, which are present in skeletal muscle and bone marrow tissue.
“In response to a brief 10-minute exposure to magnetic fields, cells release a variety of molecules that have regenerative, metabolic, anti-inflammatory, & immunity boosting properties. These substances are part of what is known as a muscle “secretome” (for secreted factors) and are necessary for the growth, survival & development of cells into tissues. We are very excited about the possibility that magnetically stimulated secretome release will one day replace the need for FBS in cultured meat production,” stated Franco-Obregón.
A safe and convenient harvesting method
“Growth-inducing secretomes can be harvested safely, conveniently and inexpensively in the laboratory. In this way, the myogenic stem cells will act as a sustainable & environmentally friendly bioreactor to produce nutrient-rich secretomes to grow cell-based meat on a large scale for consumption. The muscle knows how to produce what it needs to grow and develop, it just needs a little encouragement when it out-side its owner. Our magnetic fields can provide that,” added the researcher .
The discovery can also be used for regenerative medicine applications. The research team used the secreted proteins to treat diseased cells with promising results. They found that these proteins helped speed up recovery & growth of diseased cells, suggesting the new technique’s potential to heal injured cells and accelerate patient recovery.
The tech has a patent, and the researchers are working to commercialise it. The research was released in the Biomaterials scientific journal’s August 2022 issue.