Lab-grown Meats Will Help to Address Climate Change

The protein sector is at a crossroads. On the one hand, global demand for animal protein has never been higher. On the other, meat and dairy already have an outsized hoofprint on the world’s farmlands. And with the climate crisis devastating natural and agricultural resources, we know the Earth’s ecosystems cannot support an expanded traditional agricultural sectorPlant-based protein has experienced rapid growth but is dwarfed by the size of the global meat protein market.

Enter cellular agriculture. Every day brings news of new venture capital funding, adding over US$9.7 billion in global investments. Cellular agriculture encompasses a raft of technologies and approaches that manufacture food and other products normally sourced from plants and animals including: dairy proteins, egg proteins, chocolate, honey, red meat, poultry, seafood, leather, silk and ingredients including sweeteners and flavourings. Cellular agriculture entered the public eye in 2013 when tissue engineering researcher Mark Post produced the first test-tube burger. This prototype cost hundreds of thousands of dollars but today, the same patty can be made for about 10 euros, or $15. In the past two years, dozens of companies have sprung up in Singapore, Israel and California to develop consumer products almost biologically identical to those traditionally sourced from plants and animals.

A few products are already in restaurants and on supermarket shelves. The cellular agriculture dairy company Perfect Day brews dairy proteins in bioreactors using yeast, much like a craft brewer produces beer. One of the largest plant-based food companies, Impossible Foods, uses cellular derived soy heme in its signature burger. Their Whoppers are for sale at Burger King and they have just raised a further US$500 million in investment capital to scale up production. The food-tech startup Eat Just mixes chicken proteins produced through cellular agriculture with plant-based ingredients to create an analogue to a chicken nugget.

Some current cellular agriculture technologies involve animal-based inputs such as stem cells and growth media. These products are not necessarily vegetarian, and so may not be universally accepted by consumers for cultural, religious or dietary reasons. That said, there is a huge potential to reduce water consumption, energy use, land use and greenhouse gases. While there are debates as the extent of the hoped-for environmental benefits, optimists are betting on the fact that carefully designed bioreactors using renewable energy will be more sustainable than a lot of the world’s livestock systems.

https://theconversation.com/

How To Stimulate Broken Bone Cells To Heal Much More Quickly

It was just a couple of months ago that we heard about an implantable material that electrically stimulates bone cells, causing them to reproduce. Now, scientists have created a similar substance that utilizes magnetism. There are already a number of experimental materials that have a three-dimensional scaffolding-like microstructure, which simulates the structure of natural bone. After a piece of such a material has been implanted at a bone wound site, cells from the body’s adjacent bone tissue gradually migrate into it. Those cells reproduce over time, while the scaffolding simultaneously dissolves. Eventually, all that’s left is newly-grown bone, in the shape and location of the implant.

One of the challenges of the technology involves getting the bone cells to migrate and reproduce quickly. Although growth-boosting chemicals are often added to the material, scientists at the University of Connecticut took another approach with a scaffolding that they announced this June – it generates a weak electrical field in response to externally applied ultrasound pulses, and that field in turn prompts the bone cells to reproduce.

More recently, though, a team at Spain’s University of the Basque Country developed a material that instead incorporates magnetic nanoparticles. These are dispersed within a 3D matrix of a biocompatible silk-derived protein known as fibroin.

When we apply a magnetic field, we bring about a response by these nanoparticles, which vibrate and thus deform the structure, they stretch it and transmit the mechanical stress to the cells,” says the lead scientist, Dr. José Luis Vilas-Vilela. In in vitro lab tests, that stress stimulated bone cells to reproduce much more quickly than would have otherwise been the case. In fact, the technology could conceivably be used to regrow more than just bone.

We are developing various types of materials, stimuli and processes so that we can have the means to achieve the regeneration of different tissue,” says Vilas-Vilela. “In addition, the idea would be to use the stem cells of the patients themselves and be capable of differentiating them towards the type of cell we want to form the tissue with, be it bone, muscle, heart or whatever might be needed.”

The research – which also involved scientists from Portugal’s University of Minho and biotech firm BCMaterials – is described in a paper that was recently published in the journal Materialia.

Source: https://www.sciencedirect.com/
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