An increasing number of human and animal organs can be regenerated. One company is taking regeneration a step further. Modern Meadow is in the process of harnessing tissue engineering for producing lab-grown animal hides and meat. In five years Modern Meadow may produce leather and in vitro meat through methods that could include 3D bioprinting.
The process of producing leather and consumable meat via tissue culture consists of taking biopsies of donor animals and isolating and modifying the cells. These cells are then multiplied in bioreactors and then the cells are turned into aggregated spheres through centrifuging. These cell aggregates are put together in layers and fused together (perhaps by 3D bioprinting). The newly fused cells are placed in a bioreactor and given time to mature. This process stimulates collagen production in the case of the cells that will become leather and muscle growth in what will become meat.
In addition to reducing the slaughter of animals, cultured leather and meat feature several advantages. Modern Meadow’s process obviates the need for some of the most toxic parts of the leather-making process (splitting leather and removing hair) and could also make leather with better technical properties including durability, breathability, color protection and elasticity.
One advantage of cultured meat is that scientists can control the placement of fat within a piece of meat. Modern Meadow believes that it will be able to eventually make meat cuts with uniformly distributed fat that are perfectly marbled.
The addressable markets are enormous. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the world consumed 122 billion pounds of beef and veal in 2011. Leather is also a sizeable market with 18 billion square feet processed annually for a total global trade in excess of $60 billion.Cultured Meat,