Spinach, a cost-efficient and environmentally friendly scaffold, provided an edible platform upon which a team of researchers has grown meat cells, an advance that may accelerate the development of cultured meat, according to a new report in Food BioScience.
Stripped of all but its veiny skeleton, the circulatory network of a spinach leaf successfully served as an edible substrate upon which the researchers grew bovine animal protein, said Glenn Gaudette, PhD, a professor of engineering at Boston College and the lead author of the study. The results may help increase the production of cellular agriculture products to meet rising demand and reduce environmental costs.
The investigators removed the plant cells from the spinach leaf and used the remaining vascular framework to grow isolated cow precursor meat cells. The cells remained viable for up to 14 days and differentiated into muscle mass.
The researchers say that the results will lead to further characterization of the materials and scientific processes to better understand how to meet consumer demand and gauge how large-scale production could be accomplished in accordance with health and safety guidelines. “We need to scale this up by growing more cells on the leaves to create a thicker steak,” says Dr. Guadette.
The team is also looking at other vegetables and other animal and fish cells.