Jan.21, 2013

Back in August 2012, Paypal co-founder Peter Thiel and his philanthropic foundation announced a $350,000 donation for bioprinted meat and leather production that is based on the latest advances in tissue engineering and causes no harm to animals.

Prof Gabor Forgacs of the University of Missouri, co-founder of Modern Meadow, says bioprinting live material that is part of a living creature is much more challenging. BBC explains the process:

To bioengineer meat, the scientists first get stem cells or other specialised cells from an animal via a common procedure known as biopsy. Once the cells multiplied to sufficient numbers, they are put into a bio-cartridge.


So instead of traditional ink or a material like plastic, the 3D printer cartridge contains something called bioink made of hundreds of thousands of live cells.


Once printed in the desired shape, the bioink particles naturally fuse to form living tissue.


This process of bioprinting biomaterials is similar to attempts to print artificial organs for transplants - but the result could well end up in your frying pan.

In the case of meat, 3D printing has its advantage: a hamburger's lateral dimensions are much bigger than its thickness so that makes the printing considerably simpler.

Researchers at Maastricht University in the Netherlands announced at a conference in Vancouver earlier last year that they were growing animal cells to produce strips of muscle tissue. Professor Mark Post says that could be world's first artificial hamburger.

His team takes stem cells from skeletal muscle, expands them and then lets them differentiate into mature muscle cells. Depending on level of maturation and on amount that they are growing, this is same as in vitro skeletal muscle and therefore in principle the same as meat.

The team has already made small pieces of artificially grown muscle which is about 2cm long, 1cm wide and about 1mm thick. The strips are off-white and will be mixed with blood and artificially grown fat.

The production process costs about 250,000 euros. According to Post, the aim of the research is develop a more efficient way of producing meat. There is still much to do before an affordable artificial meat can be produced in the laboratory. Post says it could take 15~20 years before we can have artificial meat in the supermarket.

Watch the video below Mark Post introducing the artificial meat at If Conference in London.




Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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