Scientists have used stem cells and 3D printing technology to create a synthetic steak containing muscle, fat, and blood vessels.
Two types of stem cells from Wagyu cows, bovine satellite cells and adipose-derived stem cells, were used to create the man-made meat.
Wagyu meat has a high price tag, costing up to $200 per pound for the meat and $30,000 for an adult cow.
Scientists have been looking for an alternative to using animals for food due to the industry’s huge impact on climate change.
The global meat industry routinely under-reports its emissions and has been accused of “borrowing tactics from tobacco companies”, according to a major investigation by Desmog reported by The Independent.
The scientists’ aim was to create a structure similar to the meat’s high quantity of intramuscular fat, known as marbling or sashi, which provides its flavour and texture.
Once the fibres were fabricated using bioprinting, they were arranged in a three-dimensional structure like the natural meat. The research, “Engineered whole cut meat-like tissue by the assembly of cell fibers using tendon-gel integrated bioprinting” was published in Nature Communications.
“By improving this technology, it will be possible to not only reproduce complex meat structures, such as the beautiful sashi of Wagyu beef, but to also make subtle adjustments to the fat and muscle components,” senior author Michiya Matsusaki said. It could be possible, in the future, for customers to order a specific meat with adjustable amounts of fat to cater for individual taste and health conditions.
Big-name brands are also attempting to diversify where their meat comes from. In 2020, KFC partnered with Russian biotechnology company 3D Printing Solutions to develop the world’s first lab-grown chicken nuggets.
The chain says that its “biomeat” will remove the additives used in traditional farming and create a “cleaner final product”, as well as cutting down on energy consumption and stopping harm to animals. It could also be resistant to superbugs, helping avoid future pandemics.