Controlled, switchable differentiation of skeletal muscle in vitro through cell line and matrix engineering
New Harvest Research Fellow: Andrew Stout, BSc Materials Science and Bioengineering, Rice University
Project Cost: $227,264
Project Start Date: September 1, 2017
Project Duration: Four years full time for a PhD in Biomedical Engineering
Supervisors: Dr. David Kaplan (Professor and Chair, Biomedical Engineering; Tufts University)
Andrew Stout at the culture hood in the lab at Tufts
In essence, cultured meat involves directing tissue engineering towards the large-scale production of animal muscle. There are two phases of growth in cell culture: proliferation and differentiation. Proliferation is where cells increase in number but remain stem-like; differentiation is where cells no longer multiply but mature into muscle fibers.
There are challenges in keeping a cell population multiplying in vitro while also maintaining their ability to differentiate into muscle cells, which affects scalability and end product quality control.
This study aims to understand what scalable factors regulate the myogenic (muscle) pathway, to engineer improved platforms for cultured meat production.
Project Relevance: This research will help us control the production of cultured meat to ensure the growth phase is effective and the differentiation phase is complete.
Fun Facts: Andrew has been part of the cellular agriculture world for a few years! He has interned with Mark Post in Maastricht, the Netherlands twice, as well as with Geltor in San Francisco. Andrew also has an interest in comedy and theatre; he has written 50 original sketches and two short plays.