Japanese scientists have taken alternative meat to the next level.
A group of scientists led by Osaka University recently used stem cells isolated from Wagyu cows to 3D-print an alternative form of steak. This alternative protein contains muscle, fat, and blood vessels arranged to closely resemble conventional steaks.
The work may help usher in a more sustainable future with widely available cultured meat, the university said in a press release. Wagyu beef is popular worldwide due to its high marbling content, which lends itself to rich flavor. Typical Wagyu steaks aren’t cheap, either; high-grade wagyu can cost up to $200 per pound (USD).
The aforementioned scientists used a 3D printing method (shown in part in the YouTube video above) that can produce complex structures like muscle fibers and blood vessels, noted lead author Dong-Hee Kang. The team started with two types of stem cells, called bovine satellite cells and adipose-derived stem cells. To see how 3D-printed meat is generally made, view this brief, informative YouTube video.
Under the right laboratory conditions, such “multipotent” cells can be coaxed to differentiate into every type of cell needed to produce the cultured meat. Individual fibers like fat were fabricated from those cells using bioprinting. The fibers were then arranged in 3D to reproduce the structure of real Wagyu meat.
“By improving this technology, it will be possible to not only reproduce complex meat structures,” said senior author Michiya Matsusaki, “but to also make subtle adjustments to the fat and muscle components.”
In other words, consumers would be able to order cultured meat with their desired amount of fat.