The 4th International conference on cultured meat highlights (2) – Tissue formation and biomaterial

The 4th international conference on cultured meat was held in Maastricht, in the Netherlands between 2-4 December. Scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs were there to discuss tissue engineering, medium chemistry, bioreactor engineering, and other social science aspects. For those who missed the event, here are some highlights from the event.

In the ‘Tissue formation and biomaterial’ session of the 4th International conference on cultured meat, many scientists have reported their uses for innovative bio-material as the scaffold for tissues.

Dr. Mona Pederson from the Norwegian company Nofirma reported on their research progress in using eggshell membrane as scaffolding. Egg shell is a widely available food waste, which contains collagen and its powder resembles the extracellular matrix. It is a cheap and recycled animal source. The company has successfully grown fibroblast and myofibroblast on the materials.

Dr. James Courtenay from the University of Bath makes use of the cellulose from bacteria in tissue engineering. Using cellulose is advantageous because it is biocompatible, is highly functional and comes with various useful mechanical properties. This was demonstrated when the team tried to chemically modify the cellulose to carry positive and negative charges. They found out that due to the electrostatic charge, 90% of the cells attached to the cationic cellulose surface in serum-free medium. They are now working on solving other challenges such as shaping the material and boosting cell proliferation without the help of serum.

Keynote speaker Prof. Dr. Levenberg, Elected dean of Biomedical Engineering Department of the Technion, Israel, demonstrated that soy can be a great biomaterial as edible scaffolds. He shared research in which soy protein was shaped into sponges, known as Textured soy protein (TSP), providing porosity for the cells to grow. Prof. Levenberg found signs of vascular sprouting when satellite cells, endothelial cells and connective tissues were co-cultured on the scaffold. The development of the vascular system might be a solution for supplying nutrients to a 3D complex muscle tissue.

In the past scientists primarily focused on cell growth when developing biomaterials but now they are also having to bear food safety in mind. This isn’t a cause for concern though as there are certainly many edible and innovative choices for scientists to explore.

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