Illustration of streak and petri dish for article on synthetic meat.
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Published On: October 11th, 2022Categories: Articles, Synthetic Biology

Everyone is asking about cultured meat, “How is lab-grown meat made?”The concept of synthetic meat originated in the 90s when Jon Vein submitted and received a patent to make synthetic or in-vitro meat. Contrary to preconceived myths, lab-grown meat is not genetically modified. Instead, cultured meat cells perform exactly as they would inside an animal’s body.

Lab-grown meat benefits the environment by reducing energy and emissions, and lowering water and land usage. Moreover, the production of lab-grown meat substantially reduces animal abuse, could possibly improve health and lessens disease outbreaks.

Keep reading for the answer to “how is lab-grown meat made?”

How Is Lab-Grown Meat Made?

Using the stem cells (myosatellite) of animals, workers in a controlled lab environment put the cells in a petri dish. Natural amino acids and carbohydrates promote growth to form muscle fibers. The resulting product resembles ground beef.

Popularly called “cultured meat,” lab meat companies produce beef, fish, chicken, pork, and duck. Potentially, 0.5 grams of cow muscle can create up to 4.4 billion lbs of beef without killing animals and passing any diseases to consumers.

Technologies involved in producing lab-grown meat include bioprocess design, tissue engineering, cell lines, cell culture media, and 3D cell culture platforms called scaffolds. 

Another question consumers ask is, “What does cultured meat taste like?”. Some people compare the taste to a McDonald’s hamburger while others say it has a savory and rich taste. 

So, the answer to “how is lab-grown meat made” may have surprised you because producing the meat is a relatively simple process.

A Growing List of Synthetic Biology Applications

Lab-grown meat is not the lone byproduct of synthetic biology. Here are other products processed and distributed commercially.

  • Drugs
  • Toggle switches
  • Pulse generators
  • Digital logic gates
  • Biofuels
  • Therapeutics
  • Circuits
  • Biofilms
  • Agricultural crops
  • Vaccines
  • Rubber
  • Industrial products 
  • Bio-based chemicals

The Future of Synthetic Biology

Having answered the question “how is lab-grown meat made”, did you know synthetic biology affects markets other than the food industry?

Synthetic biology, syn-bio for short, makes its mark on the world’s economy. Bio-technologies expand and advance, enabling manufacturers to remain sustainable market competitors as new products and processes emerge. 

Lab engineers can redesign conventional products at the cellular level by using automated workstations to develop complex gene networks. Other platforms enable the expansive production of vaccines in tobacco plants or advances in biomedicine to engineer T-cells and fight cancer. 

Likewise, scientists combine biochemical and inorganic components to create never-before materials used for clothing and building materials. In addition to modifying existing protein-based materials, efforts are underway to design novel proteins that self-assemble into unique organized patterns. 

Also, in the near future, cultured meat companies anticipate that lab-grown meat may become more readily available in grocery stores. One of the largest hurdles facing manufacturers is consumer acceptance of bio-processed food.

Other considerations:

  1. What are the key technologies involved in producing lab-grown meat, and how do they contribute to the creation of sustainable protein alternatives?Lab-grown meat, also known as cultured meat, is produced using stem cells derived from animals, which are cultivated in controlled laboratory environments. These cells are nurtured in petri dishes with natural amino acids and carbohydrates, facilitating the formation of muscle fibers that resemble ground beef. The process involves sophisticated technologies such as bioprocess design, tissue engineering, cell lines, cell culture media, and 3D cell culture platforms called scaffolds. By leveraging these technologies, lab-grown meat offers a sustainable solution to traditional meat production, reducing energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, water usage, and land requirements, while mitigating issues related to animal welfare and disease outbreaks.
  2. What are some other commercially available products and applications of synthetic biology, besides lab-grown meat, that are shaping various industries?Synthetic biology encompasses a diverse array of products and applications beyond lab-grown meat, spanning industries such as pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, agriculture, and materials science. Commercially available synthetic biology products include drugs, toggle switches, pulse generators, digital logic gates, biofuels, therapeutics, circuits, biofilms, agricultural crops, vaccines, rubber, industrial products, bio-based chemicals, and more. These innovative solutions showcase the versatility and impact of synthetic biology across multiple sectors, revolutionizing traditional processes and driving advancements in sustainability, efficiency, and functionality.
  3. How does synthetic biology extend beyond the food industry, and what are the future implications of this rapidly evolving field for markets and consumers alike?Synthetic biology, often referred to as syn-bio, transcends the food industry, exerting significant influence on global economies and technological landscapes. By harnessing bio-technologies, manufacturers can innovate and diversify their product portfolios, maintaining competitiveness while addressing sustainability challenges. Lab engineers utilize automated workstations to manipulate genes and develop complex gene networks, facilitating the production of vaccines, therapeutics, and bio-based materials. Moreover, synthetic biology enables the creation of novel materials for diverse applications, including clothing and construction. As cultured meat companies anticipate increased consumer acceptance and availability in grocery stores, the future of synthetic biology promises further breakthroughs, driven by ongoing advancements in research, automation, and market adoption.

Hudson Robotics has been the leading supplier of automated products for over 38 years including many aspects of synthetic biology automation. Speak to a representative today!