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Lab-grown burgers could be on menus by 2021

Lab-grown burgers could be on ...
The new funding is aimed at bringing the cost of a cultured meat burger down to about nine euros
The new funding is aimed at bringing the cost of a cultured meat burger down to about nine euros
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The new funding is aimed at bringing the cost of a cultured meat burger down to about nine euros
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The new funding is aimed at bringing the cost of a cultured meat burger down to about nine euros
Cultured meat looks very like natural hamburger
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Cultured meat looks very like natural hamburger

It may not be very long before you can go into a restaurant and order "one hamburger, hold the cow." Dutch startup Mosa Meat has secured €7.5 million (US$8.8 million) in funding to take lab-grown meat from an expensive laboratory experiment to an affordable commercial commodity. By using more advanced techniques to grow meat from cultured animal cells, the goal is to create burgers and other meat products that are both sustainable and affordable.

When the Maastricht University team led by Mark Post showed the world the first hamburger made from lab-grown meat in 2013, it wasn't exactly dollar menu fast food. The modest looking sandwich costed out at €250,000 (US$330,000) – and that was without fries. To bring down the prices, Post co-founded Mosa Meat with an eye on commercializing the process.

The latest funding by Merck, and Bell Food Group's corporate venture capital arm, M Ventures, gives Mosa Meat the backing of the leading meat processor in Switzerland as well as Google's Sergey Brin, the Glass Wall Syndicate, and others. This capital will be used to develop an end-to-end process for cultured meat production that will hit the market by 2021 with a cost per burger of €9 (US$10) with further reductions inside of the next seven years.

According to Mosa Meat, the process for producing cultured, or "clean," meat is to take muscle tissue from an animals under anesthesia using a biopsy probe. Cells from this tissue are then induced to revert to myosatellite stem cells, which are the embryonic precursors to muscle cells.

Cultured meat looks very like natural hamburger
Cultured meat looks very like natural hamburger

These cells are placed in a carefully controlled nutrient serum in a bioreactor, where they proliferate. When enough cells are grown, the nutrients are reduced, causing the cells to differentiate and form a primitive muscle tissue called myotubes. They are then transferred to a hydrogel medium to help them form into muscle fibers by the thousands until, after suitable infusion with myoglobin-like substances to give them the proper color and being ground, they resemble hamburger or sausage meat.

The company says that the biggest challenge at present is to find a substitute for the fetal bovine serum currently used as a nutrient because it negates the whole no-animals-needed thing. The hope is to find an economical substitute.

"Meat demand is soaring and in future won't be met by livestock agriculture alone," says Lorenz Wyss, CEO of Bell Food Group. "We believe this technology can become a true alternative for environment-conscious consumers, and we are delighted to bring our know-how and expertise of the meat business into this strategic partnership with Mosa Meat."

Source: Mosa Meat (PDF)

9 comments
Paul Anthony
Not one comment on how it tastes.
ljaques
"May I take your order, please?" "Uh, yeah. One McSoylent with everything. That's it." Vat-grown meat-flavored yeast is sounding better by the year...
tomtoys
Great, bring it on.
EZ
Looks like Big Pharma is starting to eye ball our food supply. Great.
Douglas Bennett Rogers
This could be very valuable for a colony ship.
Nik
''Chicken Little'' arrives! [ Chicken Little by Frederik Pohl (w/CM Kornbluth): ] well, Beef Little in this case. [http://www.technovelgy.com/ct/content.asp?Bnum=1002] Science catches up with science fiction eventually!
JetDoc
Soylent Green is PEOPLE!
Gregg Eshelman
It will have to cost a lot less than beef AND it will need to have all the B vitamins etc that we human omnivores require and can only get naturally in our diets from eating herbivores.
Ralf Biernacki
Actually, in spite of poorly-thought-out comments, this goes quite the opposite direction than Soylent Green. In the movie, they went from butchering animals to butchering humans; here they are moving away from butchering at all, and trying to produce lifeless meat that suffers about as much as honey does, that is to say not at all---less than plants, even. I'll never understand the rationale for vegans refusing dairy products: milk, honey, or unfertilized eggs are natural food substances, nonliving, made specifically to be consumed. This lab-grown meat is like that.