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Stem cell study paves way for gene editing to produce cultured meat
Scientists have obtained stem cells from pigs, sheep, and cattle without the need for serum, feeder cells, or antibiotics to pave the way for “manufacturing cell-cultured meat and breeding enhanced livestock”.
The researchers for the study were mainly from the University of Nottingham’s School of Biosciences in the UK, in collaboration with the Universities of Cambridge, Exeter, Tokyo, and Meijit.
According to the lead researcher, Ramiro Alberio, the ability to derive and maintain livestock stem cells under chemically defined conditions allows the development of novel food products, such as cultured meat.
He added that the newly-developed cell lines are a step-change from previous models for their unique ability to permanently grow to make muscle and fat.”
The stem cell lines can develop into multiple cell types, which can then be genetically manipulated through the Crispr/Cas9 gene-editing tool.
The results could broaden research into gene editing animals to improve productivity, adaptation to climate change, diet modifications, and the environmental impact of livestock production.
Alberio added the results allow gene editing to happen naturally over a long time selectively and rapidly to customize specific traits. This can accelerate the pace of genetic selection of livestock and cultured meat to improve productivity and the creation of healthier foods.
The research offers potential solutions that the food industry could use at scale amid a growing population to feed in a changing climate.
According to the study, the new chemically defined approach provides greater consistency and safety than the use of serum, making it an ideal solution for manufacturing new lab-grown food products.”.
It added that the use of serum has technical disadvantages, including its undefined nature, batch-to-batch variability in composition, and the risk of contamination.
The research, titled “Pluripotent stem cells related to embryonic disc exhibit common self-renewal requirements in diverse livestock species,” was published in the Development journal.
It was funded by BBSRC, EU (ERC), MRC and Wellcome Trust.