Trophic Support Cells for Serum-Free Tissue Culture

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