Scientists have for the first time obtained stem cells from livestock that grow under chemically defined conditions, paving the way for manufacturing cell cultured meat and breeding enhanced livestock.
Researchers from the University of Nottingham’s School of Biosciences, together with colleagues at the Universities of Cambridge, Exeter, Tokyo and Meiji (Japan) have developed stem cell lines from pigs, sheep and cattle embryos grown without the need for serum, feeder cells or antibiotics.
The research “Pluripotent stem cells related to embryonic disc exhibit common self-renewal requirements in diverse livestock species” has been published in the journal Development and was funded by BBSRC, EU (ERC), MRC and Wellcome Trust.
The chemically defined conditions are growth medium suitable for the in vitro cell culture of animal cells in which all of the chemical components are known. Standard cell culture media commonly consist of a basal medium supplemented with animal serum (such as fetal bovine serum, FBS) as a source of nutrients and other ill-defined factors.
The technical disadvantages to using serum include its undefined nature, batch-to-batch variability in composition, and the risk of contamination so this new chemically defined approach provides greater consistency and safety, making it an ideal solution for manufacturing new lab grown food products.
Professor Ramiro Alberio from the University of Nottingham, said: “The ability to derive and maintain livestock stem cells under chemically defined conditions paves the way for the development of novel food products, such as cultured meat. The cell lines we developed are a step change from previous models as they have the unique ability to permanently grow to make muscle and fat.”