One of Breakout Labs recipient is Columbia based Modern Meadow, who is developing bioprinted meat and leather production that is based on the latest advances in tissue engineering and causes no harm to animals.
Co-founders Gabor and Andras Forgacs respectively invented and helped commercialize bioprinting, a technology that builds tissues and organ structures based on the computer-controlled delivery of cells in three dimensions. They previously co-founded Organovo, a San Diego-based regenerative medicine company which applies bioprinting to a range of medical applications, including drug discovery, drug testing and ultimately transplant tissues.
With Breakout Labs funding, they plan to apply the latest advances in tissue engineering to edible cultured meat prototype that can provide a humane and sustainable source of animal protein to consumers around the world.
"Breakout Labs is a much-needed source of funding and support for emerging technologies like ours," said Andras Forgacs. "Investors across the board have become more risk-averse and yet early funding is critical to enable truly innovative ideas. We are proud to be a part of the Breakout Labs program."
"Modern Meadow is combining regenerative medicine with 3D printing to imagine an economic and compassionate solution to a global problem," said Lindy Fishburne, Breakout Labs' executive director. "We hope our support will help propel them through the early stage of their development, so they can turn their inspired vision into reality."
Additional Breakout Labs grants were awarded to Bell Biosystems and Entopsis, two medical startups.
To date Breakout Labs has awarded a total of nine grants, of up to $350,000 each.
"People used to dream about how innovation would make the future a radically better, more advanced place," said Jonathan Cain, president of the Thiel Foundation. "By funding unusual approaches to known challenges, such as conflict over food prices or the diagnosing and curing of diseases, we hope that Breakout Labs helps bring about the sort of technologically prosperous world that people once imagined possible."
At the TedMed 2011 conference Gabor Forgacs cooked up and ate meat engineered using a 3D bioprinting process in his lab. Forgacs argued that mass produced lab-grown meat could help to solve issues such as global hunger, pollution, energy use, animal rights.
In a document submitted by Modern Meadow to the US Department of Agriculture, it says:
Here we propose to adapt this technology to building meat products for consumption. The technology has several advantages in comparison to earlier attempts to engineer meat in vitro. The bio-ink particles can be reproducibly prepared with mixtures of cells of different type. This allows for control in composition that enables the engineering of healthy products of great variety.
We anticipate that this Phase I application will result in a macroscopic size (~2 cm x 1 cm x 0.5 mm) edible prototype and will demonstrate that bio-printing-based in vitro meat production is feasible, economically viable and environmentally practical.
The consumer acceptance of such products may not be without challenges. We expect it will first appeal to culinary early-adopter consumers and the segment of the vegetarian community that rejects meat for ethical reasons. With reduction in price, it can reach the masses with religious restrictions on meat consumption (people restricted to Hindu, Kosher, Halal diets) and finally populations with limited access to safe meat production.
Watch the video below showing an introduction to 3D bioprinting for regenerative medicine and consumer applications from the Economist Ideas Conference at Berkeley on March 28, 2012, presented by Andras Forgacs, CEO of Modern Meadow.
Posted in 3D Printing Technology
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