Wagyu: Scientists at Osaka University in Japan used stem cells isolated from Wagyu cows to 3D print an alternative to traditional beef. Printed steak contains muscle, fat and blood vessels arranged similarly to conventional steaks.
The work could help usher in a future of more sustainable and animal cruelty-free food, with widely available laboratory-grown meat.
The way cattle are raised today is often considered unsustainable due to their contribution to greenhouse gas emissions that aggravate climate conditions.
The laboratory-grown beef alternative holds promise, but the options that have been available so far have consisted mainly of poorly organized muscle fiber cells—which fail to reproduce the complex structure of “real” beef steaks. The team led by Osaka University has managed, using 3D printing, to create a synthetic meat that looks more like a traditional steak.
“Using the histological structure of Wagyu meat as a model, we developed a 3D printing method that can produce custom-made complex structures such as muscle fibers, fat and blood vessels,” explained study lead author Dong-Hee Kang in a statement. of the university.
How to print meat
The team began work 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 as each type needed to produce the cultivated meat.
Individual fibers, including muscle, fat or blood vessels, were fabricated from these cells using bioprinting. Then the fibers were arranged in 3D, following the histological structure, reproducing the structure of real Wagyu meat. Then the meat was sliced perpendicularly.
The new process even makes it possible to print the fabric in a customizable way: “With the improvement of this technology, it will be possible not only to reproduce complex structures of meat, such as the beautiful marbling of Wagyu meat, but also to make subtle adjustments in the fat and fat components. muscles,” explained another study author, Michiya Matsusaki.
Wagyu can be literally translated as “Japanese cow” and is famous throughout the world for its high intramuscular fat content, known as marbling. It gives the meat its rich flavors and unique texture.
So, it seems that in the future customers will be able to go to the butcher’s to order meat grown with the desired amount of fat, based on their preferred flavor and other issues such as healthy eating. Or will we be able to print our own flesh at home?