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Current Research Projects

We fund and support open, collaborative, academic research to advance the field of cellular agriculture. Since 2008, New Harvest has committed over $2,388,250 in grants for 21 research projects across six countries. Email research@new-harvest.org to learn more.

Ricardo: Biofabricating Muscle

Using Curved Surface Templates for the Biofabrication of Structured Skeletal Muscle Tissues

New Harvest Research Fellow: Dr. Ricardo M. Gouveia, PhD, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Institute of Genetic Medicine, Newcastle University, UK 

Project Start Date: December 2018

Project Duration: 15 months (Oct 2018 – Dec 2019), part-time (0.3 FTE)

Institutes: Newcastle University, UK

Supervisors:  Dr. Che J. Connon (Professor of Tissue Engineering; Institute of Genetic Medicine, Newcastle University, UK)


Project Abstract: 

Meat palatability is the primary determinant of consumer acceptance. This attribute is in turn determined by the highly-ordered structure of the tissue’s complex cellular andmatrix components. Current strategies to reproduce these intricate features in vitrousually rely on intricate and costly setups with limited scalability potential. Recently, Professor Che Connon’s group at Newcastle University demonstrated that tissue templating represents a simple and cheap but efficient strategy to control the behavior of stromal stem cells in vitro to create highly-ordered connective tissue equivalents for regenerative medicine applications. Specifically, they showed that substrate curvature at the millimeter-scale spontaneously promote the migration, proliferation, and self-organization (alignment) of stromal cells and of their deposited matrix. Moreover, templated surfaces were able to elicit the controlled bio-fabrication of dense, highly-ordered connective tissues reproducing the 3D architecture and composition of their natural counterparts. As such, the concept of tissue templating using curved surfaces may constitute an ideal approach to produce larger, denser, and easily-recoverable structured muscle tissues with an organization and composition that allows reproducing the texture of natural meat, as recognized by the consumers’ palate (Fig. 1).

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Figure 1: How tissue templating can contribute for the in vitro production of structured meat.(a) Myoblasts isolated from animals grown on curved surface templates are instructed to align and deposit highly-ordered matrix, forming (b) structured tissues that serve as support for the growth of additional relevant cell types, and then (c) processed (via stacking, folding) for higher hierarchical tissue organization, and to recreate the structure and texture of natural meat.

John: Cell Behavior Regulation

Modifying the Behavior of Cultured Meat Relevant Cells Without Alterations to the Genome

New Harvest Research Fellow: John Yuen, PhD Candidate, Biomedical Engineering, Tufts University

Project Start Date: December 2018

Project Duration: Full time; Four years funded; One year optional extra for completion.

Institutes: Tufts University, Boston, MA, USA; NIH P41 Tissue Engineering Resource Center, Boston, MA, USA

Supervisors: Dr. David Kaplan (Professor/Chair, Biomedical Engineering; Tufts University)​​:


Project Abstract: 

John is working on managing the behavior of cells used in cultured meat production to make them usable in large scale production. This involves processes such as preventing cellular senescence (where cells stop multiplying) and promoting robust stem cell differentiation into muscle fibers. John is trying to achieve these goals without genomic modifications, as this may assist in the acceptance of cultured meat in regions of the world that are typically against genetic modification in food, such as the European Union (EU).

Jordan: Spinach Scaffolds

Construction of 3D Vascularized Skeletal Muscle Tissue from Decellularized dSpinach Leaves for Cell-Based Meat Production 

New Harvest Research Fellow: Jordan Jones (BS Biomedical Engineering; Worcester Polytechnic Institute)  

Institutes: Worcester Polytechnic Institute; Worcester, MA

Supervisors:  Dr. Glenn Gaudette (Professor of Biomedical Engineering; Worcester Polytechnic Institute)

 


Project Abstract: 

The concept of in-vitro meat production promises to solve a number of growing concerns in the agriculture industry. One of the main barriers to this technology is engineering an edible, vascularized scaffold to maintain cell viability in 3D culture environments. Our lab has demonstrated that decellularized spinach leaves can be used as a 2D scaffold for mammalian cells. By utilizing the natural vasculature of decellularized spinach leaves, these scaffolds can be useful tissue engineering applications. We propose that a vascularized 3D culture can be created by layering these 2D cultures using decellularized spinach leaves as the scaffold. 

 

Mike: Trophic Support Cells

Developing A Trophic Support Cell for Serum-Free Tissue Culture 

New Harvest Dissertation Awardee: Mike McLellan, PhD candidate in the Tufts University Mammalian Genetics Program conducting research at the Jackson Laboratory

Institutes: Tufts University; Jackson Laboratory 

 


Project Abstract: 

The dependence on using animal serum to sustain viable cells in culture is a major hinderance to the production of a truly clean lab-grown meat. This is primarily due to a lack of definition concerning the active trophic factors provided by serum. 

Mike has developed an "interactome" map of cardiac tissue in cell culture which identifies both the signals and signal receptors various different cell types use to communicate and coordinate with each other while growing as a tissue. In essence, has identified the active trophic factors that are typically provided by serum. 

Now, Mike intends to clone the trophic factors identified in this analysis into a host ‘trophic support cell’ (TSC), which will be augmented to overexpress the molecular cues that support various cell types within muscle tissue. Theoretically, this will act as a seed to stimulate cell growth and tissue development in any target muscle and functions as a proof of concept for serum-free tissue culture.

The single-cell workflow developed for this project will be useful to assay multiple muscle types, from multiple agricultural animals, in order to develop interactome maps specific to tissue type and target host species. By developing a higher-resolution map of cellular interactions within muscle tissue, this work will advance the basic biological understanding of what makes and maintains a tissue, and inform how to replicate these processes for cellular agriculture.

 

Cardiac cell co-culture

Stephanie: Marbled Beef Scaffolds

Developing Plant-Based Scaffolds for Marbled Cultured Beef 

New Harvest Research Fellow: Stephanie Kawecki, M.S; The Regents of the University of California, Los Angeles 

Project Start Date: April 2019

Project Duration: Full time; Four years funded 

Institutes: The Regents of the University of California, Los Angeles

Supervisors:  Dr. Amy Rowat, Associate Professor of Biology and Integrative Physiology; Adjunct Faculty in Bioengineering, The Regents of the University of California, Los Angeles 

 


Project Abstract: 

The beef industry is a major contributor to accelerating climate change. Culturing meat in vitro is a promising strategy to reduce the environmental impact of beef production. However, meat texture is a major determinant of taste and consumer appeal, and a cultured beef product that recapitulates the texture of beef - with marbling, or interspersing of fat within muscle - does not exist yet. A marbled cultured meat product requires co-culture of both muscle (myocyte) and fat (adipocyte) cells on a scaffold with culture conditions that result in successful maturation of both cell types to form muscle and fat tissue. Given that myocytes and adipocytes require distant mechanical cues to successfully propagate and mature, Stephanie will tune scaffold physical properties to enable the simultaneous growth of both cell types and drive the production of cultured marbled beef that has desirable texture and flavor. Improving palatability is critical for cell-cultured beef to become an effective, sustainable replacement that meets the needs of consumers and reduces environmental burden. 

Kai: Serum-Free Media

Serum-Free Media for Cultured Meat Production 

New Harvest Research Fellow: Kai Steinmetz (MSc in Biochemistry (German equivalent); Currently PhD candidate at the University of Auckland)

Project Start Date: January 2019

Project Duration: Full time; Three years funded; One year optional for completion.

Institutes: The University of Auckland, The Riddet Institute

Supervisors:  Dr Laura Domigan (Lecturer, School of Biological Sciences; University of Auckland); Professor Juliet Gerrard (Professor, School of Biological Sciences and Department of Chemistry; University of Auckland); Professor Warren McNabb (Professor, Massey University)


Project Abstract: 

This research aims to create serum-free and cost-effective growth and differentiation media for clean meat production. Both basal media and serum requirements will be addressed. A high-throughput screen using C2C12 muscle cells will be established to investigate NZ agricultural products for their potential as serum replacements, as well as low-cost alternatives to conventional basal media. In parallel, a defined media will bedeveloped. Small molecules will also be screened and compared to recombinant growth factors. This research will also establish a deer primary muscle cells culture for the first time, and test new media formulations on these cells.

 

Alexis: Biomanufacturing Scaffolds

Stereolithography of Heterogeneous Cellularized Protein Structures 

New Harvest Research Fellow: Alexis Garrett (PhD Candidate in Mechanical and Materials Engineering at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln)

Project Start Date: April 2020

Institutes:

University of Nebraska‐Lincoln (biomanufacturing / cell‐substrate evaluation)
University of Rouen, France (polymer scaffold characterization)
University of Connecticut (tissue evaluation)
Harvard Medical School (stem cell differentiation)
Georgia Institute of Technology (cell proliferation)

Supervisors:  Dr. Michael Sealy (Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska-Lincoln); Dr. Ali Tamayol (Associate Professor, University of Connecticut); Dr. Laurent Delbreilh (Maitre de Conferences, University of Rouen) 


Project Abstract: 

The long term goal of this research is to improve the speed of alternative protein production with advanced manufacturing. In pursuit of this goal, the overarching research objective is to apply stereolithography to rapidly print tissue engineered constructs that solve the problem of texture in alternative proteins (i.e., meat). Current manufacturing methods for cultured proteins are slow, expensive, and unable to achieve textures beyond conventional ground meats. Production rates of cultured proteins using existing biomanufacturing tools are insufficient for reaching economies of scale capable of competing with animal‐ based production. To address challenges related to feeding the global population, a convergent approach between manufacturing, tissue engineering, and food science is needed to enable new manufacturing knowledge to address speed and texture. Current products are costly and unable to achieve textures beyond conventional ground meats (e.g., hamburger or hotdog). A hybrid approach combining electrospinning and stereolithography is proposed as an alternative to conventional extrusion‐based cell printing that solves challenges related to both speed and texture.

Alexis's research focuses on fabricating hybrid fibrous scaffold structures to tune the mechanical properties of the scaffold and identify it's effect on culture viability and maturation characteristics, with the end goal being to achieve a more meat analogous texture, similar to a steak cut. 

Natalie: Insect Cell Culture

Insect Tissue Engineering for Cellular Agriculture

New Harvest Research Fellow: Natalie Rubio, PhD Candidate, Biomedical Engineering, Tufts University

Project Start Date: August 2016

Project Duration: Full time; Four years funded; One year optional extra for completion.

Institutes: Tufts University, Boston, MA, USA; NIH P41 Tissue Engineering Resource Center, Boston, MA, USA

Supervisors: Dr. David Kaplan (Professor/Chair, Biomedical Engineering; Tufts University)​​:


Project Abstract: 

Cellular agriculture is the emerging field of manufacturing animal products (e.g., meat, dairy, eggs) from cells rather than whole animals. This bottom-up approach to food production is projected to be more sustainable, safe and humane than intensive livestock farming. Principle obstacles in the field include (1) large-scale production of relevant cell types (e.g., muscle, fat), (2) serum-free growth media and (3) three-dimensional, structured tissue formation. While these goals are similar to the aims of tissue engineering for medical applications, cellular agriculture technologies are also constrained by cost- efficiency as cell-based food should be cost-competitive with conventional analogs. Insect cell and tissue culture is a promising platform for cost-efficient production of cell-based meat. Large-scale insect cell production is well-documented due to the recombinant protein production industry and multiple serum- free media formulations are commercially available. While insect-based tissue engineering has been previously pursued in the field of soft robotics and bioactuation, advances have been minimal. The aim of my research is to develop a three-dimensional culture system for insect tissue biofabrication with consideration for food applications. To achieve this, Natalie will focus on (1) cell line development and serum- free media formulation, (2) scaffold fabrication and (3) nutrient and texture analysis. Natalie plans to use cells from three sources: a genetically immortalized GFP-expressing D. melanogaster adult muscle precursor cell line and primary cells isolated from M. sexta and A. domesticus. Natalie will evaluate sustainable biomaterials such as mushroom-derived chitosan, cellulose and silk protein in 2D (e.g., micropatterned films) and 3D (e.g., sponge, hydrogel) formats. The nutrient profile and texture characteristics of resulting tissues will be compared to conventional meat products. This work will set a foundation for future exploration in the field of invertebrate cell and tissue technologies.

 

Natalie Rubio is the first recipient of the New Harvest Cultured Tissue Fellowship. New Harvest created the New Harvest Cultured Tissue Fellowship in 2015 in partnership with the Tissue Engineering Research Center (TERC) at Tufts University. TERC is an NIH-supported initiative that focuses on functional tissue engineering through a systems approach to integrate the key elements of tissue engineering: cells, scaffold, and bioreactors. 

TERC is based at Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts and is directed by Professor David Kaplan, in whose lab Natalie will be working. Dr. Kaplan works on tissue engineering beyond medical applications, so it is the perfect place for biofabricated foods to develop. 

Natalie started volunteering with New Harvest in 2014. In the summer of 2014, she traveled with Isha and Ryan and Perumal from Muufri to Cork, Ireland where she worked as part of Muufri's team as they began an accelerator program through Indie.Bio

 

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Natalie's first day in the lab!

 

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Zac: Optimization Algorithms for Cell Culture Media

Advancing Cell-Based Seafood through Recombinant Production of Fish-Specific Growth Factors for Use in Serum-Free Growth Medium

New Harvest Research Fellow: Zachary Cosenza, BS Chemical Engineering, University of Minnesota Twin Cities

Project Start Date: August 2019

Project Duration: Three years 

Institutes: University of California Davis

Supervisors:  David Block, PhD (Department of Viticulture and Enology/ Department of Chemical Engineering; UC Davis); Keith Baar, PhD (Functional Molecular Biology Laboratory; UC Davis School of Medicine) 


Project Abstract: 

The cost of mammalian cell culture media currently makes industrial production of cultured meat products commercially difficult. Finding alternatives using factorial design or naive single-component analysis is inefficient due to the large number of nutrients required and their interactions. Zachary is developing and using next generation experimental design methods to improve culture media for murine C2C12 and primary muscle cell lines using as few experiments as possible as has been done successfully for other fermentation systems. Additionally, because future work in this field will require further alterations to processing, the optimization method will be generalizable and robust for different design objectives, cocultures, reactor types, and feedstocks.

Jannis: Meat Bioprinting

Development of Animal-Free Bioinks and Muscle/Fat Tissue Modeling

New Harvest Research Fellow: Jannis Wollschlaeger, PhD Student at Reutlingen University, Germany

Project Start Date: September 2019

Project Duration: Three year, full-time

Institutes: Reutlingen University, Germany

Supervisors: Prof. Petra J. Kluger (Professor for Tissue Engineering and Biofabrication; School of Applied Chemistry, Reutlingen University, Germany)

Prof. Melina Claussnitzer (Head of Department for Nutritional Sciences; Institute of Biological Chemistry and Nutritional Science, University of Hohenheim, Germany)


Project Abstract: 

This research project deals with investigations in the field of the cellular agriculture. Concretely, it is aimed to print building blocks of meat with two different cell types (fat and muscle cells) mimicking the form of native meat tissue from beef or pig and showing similar texture. Prior to that:

  • a defined low-cost co-culture medium for fat and muscle cells has to be developed
  • animal-free biomaterials suitable as bioinks have to be identified and characterized
  • computer-aided design (CAD) models for simplified meat building blocks have to be created
  • all the previous steps have to be combined in the bioprinting process

Ted: Media for Enhanced Protein Production

Development of Cost-Effective Media for Enhanced Muscle Protein Content

New Harvest Research Fellow: Ted O'Neill, PhD Student at the University of California, Davis

Project Start Date: September 2019

Project Duration: Three years, full-time

Institutes: University of California, Davis

Supervisors:  Prof. David Block (Chair and Professor, Viticulture and Enology, UC Davis; Professor, Chemical Engineering, UC Davis); Prof. Keith Baar (Professor, Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior, UC Davis; Physiology and Membrane Biology, UC Davis); Prof. Hildegarde Heymann (Distinguished Professor, Viticulture and Enology, UC Davis) 


Project Abstract: 

To support the growing field of cultured meat, a stronger foundation of research needs to be laid addressing more fundamental paradigmatic questions. For this project, Ted proposed to establish cultured protein-rich livestock animal muscle cells as a feasible food source. To do this, he will develop an understanding of how myoblasts can be stimulated to inexpensively synthesize protein using animal-free media supplements and compare this to traditionally cultured, differentiated muscle tissue. In addition to studying the characteristics of the resulting muscle cells, Ted will develop a prototype food product and conduct a preliminary examination of its physical and sensory qualities.

Fluorescent-stained C2C12 cell micrograph obtained using the BioTek Cytation1 we were demoing in our lab. We were testing the instrument's ability to count cell samples at a high throughput.

Counting mask algorithm applied to the same image. The BioTek software recognized the discrete blue-stained nuclei as individual cells, and seemed to be very accurate. 

Sam: Food Safety

Quality and Food Safety Assessments of Cell-Based Meat Tissue

New Harvest Research Fellow: Sam Peabody, PhD Student at Texas Tech University

Project Start Date: September 2019

Project Duration: Four years, full-time

Institutes: Department of Animal and Food Sciences, Texas Tech University

Supervisors:  Dr. Marcos X. Sanchez-Plata (Associate Professor in Global Food Security with the International Center for Food Industry Excellence (ICFIE) at Texas Tech University); Dr. Bradley Johnson (Gordon W. Davis Regent's Chair in Meat Science and Muscle Biology at Texas Tech University); Dr. Jerrad Legako (Assistant Professor in Meat and Muscle Analysis at Texas Tech University)


Project Abstract: 

In recent years, many cell-based muscle tissue startups have appeared and are working on technologies for developing commercially feasible protein products. Many of these companies have leaders who come from medical and biotechnology fields with limited knowledge in food safety and muscle quality. Several cell-based muscle tissue companies expect to have their products enter the market within the next 3-4 years with some making bolder claims to as little as 2 years. To date, few public studies on quality and safety of these products have been made. If a muscle-tissue product is expected to be available for human consumption, the food safety implications of the development process and the quality of the product during handling and preparation need to be considered. Moreover, the current policy of regulators in the United States, European Union and other nations is to have a food safety program that considers hazard controls instilled “from farm to fork”, including preventive programs such as Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP). The central U.S. regulatory bodies of food safety, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), have made it public that they intend to regulate cell-based muscle tissue products collectively. Since HACCP programs are required for meat and poultry products, and require time to develop, implement, and validate; cell-based startups are in need of food safety assessments, and potential hazard control methodologies during the feasibility stages of production. As production increases, these food safety and quality management programs are in need to be maintained to assure safe and consistent quality products for consumers.

Objectives: 

  • To model the fate of plausible foodborne pathogens within cell-based muscle tissue products
  • To establish microbial, chemical and sensory shelf-life limits of cell-based muscle products
  • To identify and establish good hygienic practices for industrial and commercial production of in vitro muscle tissue (IVMT)
  • To compare the composition of cell-based muscle tissue to muscle tissue of the original species

Santiago: Plant-Based Scaffolds

Plant-Derived Scaffolds for Supporting In-Vitro 3D Cell Culture at Small and Large Scales

New Harvest Research Fellow: Santiago Campuzano 

Project Start Date: September 2017

Project Duration: Three years full time for a MSc

Institutes: University of British Columbia

Supervisors:  Dr. Andrew Pelling (Canada Research Chair and Professor, Depts of Physics and Biology; University of Ottawa) 


Project Abstract: 

The goal of this work is to develop an open source, plant-based scaffolding platform which can be employed by anyone worldwide for numerous applications, including cellular agriculture.

 

Currently, biomaterial scaffolds that support the growth of mammalian cells in 3D are expensive and commonly derived from animal/human products, making them unsuitable for creating cultured meat.

The Pelling lab has demonstrated that apple-derived cellulose can act as an ultra-low cost and efficiently produced scaffold. It could support 3D culture of mammalian cells, promote cell invasion and proliferation, and retain shape and mechanical properties for several months in culture. As an organic, plant-based fibre, cellulose is one of the most abundant, sustainable, and easily sourced biomaterials on earth (it can be found in plant barks and leaves).

Over the following three years, Santiago will be investigating naturally-derived biomaterials from at least five plant sources — asian pear, carrot, rose petals, asparagus, and mushroom, to name a few — as scaffolds for cultured meat production.

Spatial alignment and orientation of cells in vivo, referred to as anisotropy, plays a crucial role in the functionality of tissue. The multinucleated structures in muscle tissue, known as myofibers, rely on uniaxial alignment to generate force along an axis. Airways, arteries, and veins rely on the circumferential alignment of smooth muscles to facilitate the transport of fluids and gases; and white matter in the brain relies on anisotropic axonal fibres for proper functioning. In the laboratory, however, 2D Petri dishes fail to recreate anisotropy. This in turn has shown a difference in gene expression, leading to unreliable results. To overcome this discrepancy, a wide array of methods, including topographical cues, cyclic strain, and electrical stimulation have been used to induce alignment. However, these methods are often laborious and rely on the use of specialized equipment. Consideration of recent publications on decellularized plant tissue as 3D substrates for cell culture has led us to speculate that a wide array of structures natively found in plants have yet to be explored. Here we depict the alignment of C2C12 murine myoblast on the decellularized vascular bundle of celery (Apium graveolens). The xylem channels (38.50μm ± 6.9) and phloem channels (21.5 μm ± 5.0) lie within the 10-100μm diameter necessary for optimal myoblast alignment. Following 10 days in proliferation media, the actin filaments of C2C12 and apex of nuclei were observed to be oriented parallel to the vascular bundle-grooves. Subsequently, after 5 days in differentiation media, myotubes with an average length of 308.1 ± 169.4μm (N=103) were -2.4° ± 3.8 (N=14) from the mean direction of the vascular bundle. We can therefore conclude that the microtopography of the vascular bundle guides muscle cell alignment. The results presented here highlight the potential of this plant-derived scaffold for in vitro studies of muscle myogenesis, where structural anisotropy is required to more closely resemble in vivo conditions.

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Santiago at the microscope

 

Fun Facts: Santiago is into boxing and martial arts, worked in the hospitality industry as a cook and server throughout his degree, and just packed up his car for a 7-day cross-Canada move from Vancouver to Ottawa to begin his research.

 

This project is made possible thanks to the philanthropic support of the InVivo Group and the Scott and Cyan Banister Freedom Fund. 

Cameron: Fish Cell Culture

Serum-Free Media for Cell-Based Seafood 

New Harvest Research Fellow: Cameron Semper, Postdoctoral fellow at the University of Calgary 

Project Start Date: August 2019

Project Duration: Two years, part-time 

Institutes: University of Calgary 

Supervisors:  Dr. Alexei Savchenko (Associate professor; University of Calgary) 


Project Abstract: 

Global seafood production is struggling to keep up with increasing demand resulting from population growth. Over-exploitation of wild fisheries has repeatedly led to fishery collapse, and in the process endangered the very existence of many commercially relevant fish species.  Aquafarming, once thought to be a promising solution, is rife with problems including disease outbreak, waste production, pollution and encroachment on existing ecosystems. Cell-based production of seafood represents a novel opportunity with the capability of providing solutions to the problems associated with existing seafood production; however, basic research and investment are both lacking in this area.  Here, Cameron proposes to lower the barrier for entry into this area by creating serum-free growth medium specifically tailored for fish cell culture.

 

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BioXP, in-house gene synthesizer used for the project

 

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DNA gel of synthetic genes coding for fish growth factors. These were synthesized de novo using the BioXP device

Andrew: Nutritional Engineering

Nutritional Engineering and Analysis of Cultured Meat 

New Harvest Research Fellow: Andrew Stout, BSc Materials Science and Bioengineering, Rice University

Project Start Date: September 2017

Project Duration: Four years full time for a PhD in Biomedical Engineering

Institutes: Tufts University, Boston, MA, USA; NIH P41 Tissue Engineering Resource Center, Boston, MA, USA

Supervisors:  Dr. David Kaplan (Professor and Chair, Biomedical Engineering; Tufts University)


Project Abstract: 

This research will help us control the production of cultured meat to ensure the growth phase is effective and the differentiation phase is complete.

 

Environmental, ethical, and public-health concerns surrounding animal agriculture have generated much of the recent interest in cultured meat. By producing meat apart from the competing energy requirements present in whole animals, it is projected that cultured meat could lower the land-use, water-use, and greenhouse-gas emissions of meat. However, another exciting possibility exists in the opportunity to tailor the nutritional profile of cultured meats by introducing nutrients and bioactive compounds not typically found in meat, or not typically found at high levels in meat. This project aims to explore methods for nutritional engineering of cultured meat through bioprocess design or genetic strategies, and to understand the native nutritional properties of cultured meat. Through this work, we hope to understand the nutritional benefits that may be offered by cultured meat, elucidate the nutritional disadvantages that may be present compared to conventional meat, and explore methods to tailor the nutritional profiles of cultured meat products.

 

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Andrew Stout at the culture hood in the lab at Tufts

 

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.

Scott: Bioreactor Design

Cultured Meat Bioprocess Design

New Harvest Research Fellow: Scott Allan, MEng Chemical Engineering, University of Bath

Project Start Date: October 2017

Project Duration: Four years full time for a MRes (Masters of Research) and PhD

Institutes: University of Bath

Supervisors: Dr. Marianne Ellis (Senior lecturer in Biochemical Engineering; University of Bath), Dr. Paul De Bank (Senior lecturer in Pharmacy & Pharmacology; University of Bath), & Mr. Illtud Dunsford (Farmer, Agri-Food Consultant and owner of Charcutier Ltd)

 


Project Abstract: 

 

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Bioreactor design and control are well established in engineering disciplines like pharmaceuticals and medicine but are completely new for cultured meat. To date, the bioreactors used for cultured meat production have been of a lab scale, typically culture flasks and small scale bioreactors up to 10L. To reach industrial scale production of cultured meat, larger bioreactors must be designed.

Certain parameters must be understood to design an appropriate bioreactor. These fundamental parameters include, but are not limited to:

  • reaction kinetics (how quickly muscle cells will grow, divide, and mature),
  • transport phenomena (how nutrients will enter the cells, how waste products exit),
  • mass transfer limitations (the efficient flow of media over cells)
  • metabolic stoichiometric requirements (what the inputs (food) and outputs (waste products) of cultured meat production will be)

This is important research because no such data for muscle cell cultures for meat is currently publicly available.

This project will determine these parameters for cultured meat production, becoming the crucial basis for large scale cultured meat production.

Fun Facts: Scott is a certified scuba diver, is originally from South Africa, worked as a Distillation Technical Engineer at ExxonMobil, and is in the triathlon and boxing clubs at Bath.

Crustacean Myoblast Culture

Crustacean Myoblast Isolation and Culture

New Harvest Seed Grantee: Daniel Peterson (Currently pursuing a combined BS/MS at Northeastern University in Biotechnology)

Project Start Date: July 2019

Institutes: Northeastern University, Tufts University

Supervisors:  Dr. Elizabeth Zulick (Assistant Teaching Professor at Northeastern University)


Project Abstract: 

Lobster is one of the most popular luxury animal products in the American market and has significant growth potential overseas. Lobster range, however, has been affected by shifting climate and fishing pressure (3). Crayfish are another important crustacean and have been growing in popularity as a food source. For this reason, an​ in vitro​ solution for crustacean agriculture is a goal worth pursuing. Additionally, immortalized cell lines of these organisms are desirable for various studies which apply to aquaculture. No immortalized cell line from any mollusk has ever been created despite numerous attempts. The goals of this project are to characterize the process required to isolate crustacean myoblasts, ​observe these cells in primary cell culture and assay their inherent telomerase expression throughout their life cycle. The desired result is an increased understanding of how the goal of ​in vitro​ crustacean muscle cell lines may be created and maintained. 

The major desired output is to make strides towards the establishment of an immortalized lobster or crayfish cell line. The inherent longevity of stem cells combined with high telomerase expression in decapod muscles will contribute to the characterization of muscle stem cell fractions with promising properties towards this goal. Evaluation of telomerase at different stages of primary culture will contribute to knowledge of the regulation of expression in these cell types.

 

Mycelium Scaffolds

Mycelium Scaffolds for Muscle Cells

New Harvest Seed Grantee: Kaili Chen, a rising senior at Tufts University studying Biology and International Relations

Project Start Date: July 2019

Institutes: Tufts University; Ecovative Design

Supervisors:  Dr. David Kaplan (Professor and Chair, Biomedical Engineering;Tufts University); Natalie Rubio (Department of Biomedical Engineering, David Kaplan Research Group, Tufts University)


Project Abstract: 

In cellular agriculture, the goal of producing three-dimensional, edible, sustainable and affordable products is stressed. In order to support cell cultures, mycelium will be evaluated as a potential scaffold that meets these three criteria. As a natural, edible and affordable biomaterial, it can provide powerful tool for future tissue engineering which will support cell growth and dictate texture and strength of the tissue.

If Kaili's hypothesis that Mycelium is a viable scaffold is supported, mycelium can be used in various future applications. From this research, mycelium will be evaluated as a 3D culture for in vitro muscle development, studying its: viability, adhesion, proliferation, migration, differentiation, and alignment.