There are many delicious options for lab-grown meats. These include burgers, chicken breasts, and a variety of intricate cuts of steak. Osaka University in Japan has used cutting-edge bioprinting technology to create the first lab-grown beef that is comparable to the marbling texture of Wagyu cows.
Lab-grown meat has advanced from humble beginnings in 2009 that looked like soggy pork to the more sophisticated rib-eyes and steaks we have seen in recent years. Printing living cells could probably count as the most sophisticated example of bioprinting. These are later grown in such a way to resemble the meat of the required animal.
The Osaka University team uses adipose-derived stem cells and bovine satellite cells to start the process . Cells went through incubation to become the various cell types required for the formation of individual fibers. To resemble Wagyu’s high intramuscular fat, the arrangement of these cells is in a 3D stack.
Slices of these steaks are perpendicular to making lab-grown beef, a technique inspired by the production of Japanese Kintaro-ame candy. This allows scientists to create complex meat structures that allow for high customization. Thus, the scientists were able to recreate Wagyu’s texture. However, cultured meats with controlled amounts of fat could be possible.
Senior author Michiya Mattsusaki states that by improving the technology, it will be possible to reproduce complex meat structures such as the sashi Wagyu beef and make subtle adjustments to fat and other muscle components.
It sounds very promising, especially if the product tastes and costs less than the real thing. It will be interesting to see what happens.