‘Clean meat‘ has made news many times this year, making leaps and bounds in development and also receiving investment from some big names.
Clean meat involves growing muscle tissue identical to animal tissues from stem cells. Although there is some debate about where lab-grown meat fits in with a vegan lifestyle, due to the fact that animals must initially be used to collect stem cells from, this process eliminates the need to breed, keep and kill livestock. This is beneficial to the animals and also to the environment, as animal agriculture uses a lot of the earth’s resources to sustain demand.
Lab-grown meat’s life-saving feats don’t stop there, however, the technology used to grow meat in labs also has the potential to join forces with the medical industry and grow organs, for sick and injured patients. Currently, there are far more organs needed than healthy ones are being donated and this leads to a lot of potentially preventable deaths.
Shulamit Levenberg, a tissue engineer at Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa is involved with groundbreaking research, to pioneer the future of lab-grown organs. Levenberg stated, “Stem cell science and tissue engineering are at a stage that you can try other applications”.
Levenberg’s research saw her create muscle grafts that can generate blood vessels. This means that the muscle has a better chance of survival when transplanted into the body. According to NBC, “To do this requires a special expertise, one that also comes in handy for producing tasty lab-grown meat made of both muscle and fat“.
Levenberg also mentioned that while the medical understanding of how larger tissue and functioning organs can be grown from stem cells is still limited, if food science and medical science work together then the future is bright. These technologies hopefully provide a viable solution to usable organ donation or the lack of it.
Earlier this year, CEO of lab meat company Memphis Meats told the world he left cardiology to save lives. If lab meat technology can help grow organs, he could save even more than he thought.