Japanese scientists have produced 3D-printed Wagyu beef with marbling ‘just like the real thing’.
It was created using stem cells in a lab and, dare we say it, raises the steaks for consuming environmentally-conscious meat consumption.
While previous lab-grown meat comes out like mince, this is a fully-featured steak with a complex structure of fat, muscle and blood vessels that produces the marbling effect Wagyu beef is known for.
‘This work may help usher in a more sustainable future with widely available cultured meat,’ said Dong-Hee Kang, from the research team at Osaka University that developed the steak.
Wagyu beef, considered a delicacy, comes from special breeds of Japanese cattle that have a genetic predisposition to create the marbling of fat on the inside of muscle tissue.
Unfortunately, the current cattle farming associated with Wagyu beef are unsustainable when it comes to the climate.
Methane emissions from cattle farming contributes a huge amount of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. The message is almost universal from scientists and environmental researchers around the world: eat less meat.
The ability to move to plant-based or lab-grown meat could have profound implications as we are still able to enjoy steak without having to farm cows to get it.
The team from Osaka University decided to 3D print the different fibrous tissues such as muscle, fat, and blood vessels, and then integrate them. Starting with two types of stem cells, called bovine satellite cells and adipose-derived stem cells (cells from body fat), they were able to produce the cultured meat.
‘Because actual meat is an aligned assembly of the fibers connected to the tendon for the actions of contraction and relaxation, tendon-gel integrated bioprinting was developed to construct tendon-like gels,’ the team wrote in the study, published in the journal Nature Communications.
‘The developed tendon-gel integrated bioprinting here could be a promising technology for the fabrication of the desired types of steak-like cultured meats,’ they wrote.
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