How Does It Work?
The current process for in-vitro meat production follows a basic outline. Using the previous example, a biopsy of cells is taken from a pig with the goal of eventually producing edible meat. The myosatellite cells, which are the types of cell that becomes muscle, are extracted from this sample. A series of growth serums are added to the myosatellite cells, and they are then placed on a scaffold structure. This structure causes the cells to grow into fibers of muscle, instead of just masses of cells . Then the fibers are stimulated by using “chemical signals from the animal’s body to . . . mimic the same electrical impulses” in order to bulk up the meat . Lastly, the meat is processed to become sausage, pork or bacon. Although these ideas work in theory, there have been some issues with them in practice.
Scaling It up with Engineering
The first step of this bioreactor process involves a cycle of flow media through the bioreactor, similar to the function of the heart in the animal. The media concentration and flow rate, plus the optimal temperature and pressure for cell proliferation, would need to be adjusted depending on the system. Additionally, a method for recycling growth media—to clean it of waste from the bioreactor and to replenish the oxygen and nutrients—would need to be established. Unfortunately, current methods of “medium recycling [cause] a massive formation of cell aggregates accompanied by a progressive deterioration of the culture” . Because the structure of the cells is so important to the final product, a recycled growth medium may not allow the cells to flourish properly, causing product loss. Most processes for recycled media are on a small-scale lab basis, rather than for a large-scale factory, so further research on this matter will depend on future developments in industrial engineering.
In the Future
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