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).

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.