Scientists at Osaka University in Japan used stem cells isolated from Wagyu cows to 3D print a meat alternative that contains muscle, fat and blood vessels arranged to resemble conventional steaks.
According to the researchers, this work can help inaugurate a more sustainable future, with ample availability of meat. Wagyu cattle can be literally translated as “Japanese cow” and are famous the world over for their high intramuscular fat content, known as marbling or sashi, which gives the meat its rich flavors and distinctive texture.
Meat made in 3D bioprinting can be a sustainable alternative
However, the way cattle are raised today is often considered unsustainable in light of their staggering contribution to climate-damaging gas emissions.
With the technological innovation proposed by the new research, through 3D printing to create synthetic meat, they intend to solve the problem. “Using the histological structure of Wagyu meat as a design, we developed a 3D printing method that can produce custom-made complex structures such as muscle fibers, fat and blood vessels,” said lead author Dong-Hee Kang.
To overcome this challenge, the team started with two types of stem cells, called bovine satellite cells and adipose-derived stem cells. Under the right laboratory conditions, these “multipotent” cells can be induced to differentiate into every type of cell needed to produce the cultured meat.
Individual fibers, including muscle, fat or blood vessels, were fabricated from these cells using bioprinting. The fibers were then arranged in 3D, following the histological structure, to reproduce the structure of real Wagyu meat, which was later sliced perpendicularly.
This process enabled the reconstruction of the complex structure of the flesh tissue in a customizable way. “By improving this technology, it will not only be possible to reproduce complex meat structures like the beautiful sashi of Wagyu beef, but also make subtle adjustments to the fat and muscle components,” says senior author Michiya Matsusaki. That is, customers could order meat grown with the desired amount of fat, based on taste and health considerations.
Wagyu meat in 3D printing is not considered vegan food
This technology can make us reflect on the future of our food. Will our kitchens one day be equipped with a refrigerator, stove, microwave… and a 3D printer? One thing is certain: technology continues to bring alternatives to animal meat, so a diet without animal foods is becoming more and more common.
However, unlike other steaks made in 3D printers that we’ve already reported around here, this meat cannot be considered a vegan food alternative, or even vegetarian, due to its origin in animal stem cells.
With website information Phys.org
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