Cultivated food

Researchers make a breakthrough in the production of cultivated pork

The project could lay the foundations for the development of a nascent industry in Scotland

Researchers in Scotland have taken a big step forward in demonstrating the cost-effective scale-up of pig cell lines for lab-grown meat production.

Roslin Technologies and the University of Edinburgh, with support from the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC), have developed a new approach to cell generation that eliminates variations between how different batches of cells grow. The new approach has cut the cost of cell culture media by 61% and could be scaled for use in industry-sized bioreactors.

The technology makes induced pluripotent stem cells from a small sample of animal tissue. These cells self-renew and can be used to grow different types of tissue, such as muscle and fat.


The process of creating cultivated meat is seen as a key way of decarbonising the global food production system, as well as meeting the protein needs of a rapidly growing global population, without the need to raise animals for slaughter.

To date, a critical bottleneck in the process has been developing a cost-effective way of growing cells at a large scale. However, by refining and optimising the media used for cell generation, the researchers will now be able to increase production from a 500-millilitre bioreactor to five litres and, eventually, up to 2,000 litres – a similar size to the equipment used for commercial-scale production of cultivated meat.

Roslin Technologies is the only commercial provider of induced pluripotent stem cells and supplies its pig cells and media products to cultivated meat producers across the world. Although a nascent industry, the market for cultivated meat products is expected to reach £21.2bn by 2030 according to research from McKinsey & Company.

The findings could also be the first building block of creating a cultivated meat industry in the UK, subject to regulatory approval for the sector’s products. Singapore became the first country in the world to approve the sale of cultivated meat in December 2020, with others expected to follow.

Dr Karen Fairlie-Clarke, innovation and engagement manager at Roslin Technologies, said: “The proof of concept has shown that costs can be reduced, batch-to-batch variation reduced, and now in partnership with cultivated meat producers we can take the findings forward to larger bioreactors and begin the process of scaling up to industry standards.

“While there is still further to go to meet parity with the economics of livestock products, we are taking steps to get there by addressing the production challenges facing the cultivated meat sector.

“Once the ability to scale has been proven, the next stage is a product development and validation before further refining the media to be food grade.”

Leonardo Rios Solis, honorary lecturer at the University of Edinburgh, commented: “Our project represents a huge step forward in selecting the right cells that will grow in the way required for scale, consistency, and the necessary food standards – it is vital to understand the engineering parameters of cell growth and we have managed to determine the right conditions through this initiative.”


Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button