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University of Helsinki Develops “Game-Changing” Cultivated Meat Technology Without Growth Medium Using Stem Cells – vegconomist

Pekka Katajisto of the University of Helsinki’s HiLIFE (Helsinki Institute of Life Science) and his team at the Myocopia project have developed a technology based on stem cell research that they believe would allow the large-scale production of cultivated meat, thus bringing affordable products to the market.

The Myocopia researchers argue that cultivating meat in bioreactors relies on expensive growth factors to make the cells grow and differentiate, and these costs hinder cultivated meat companies from growing sufficient volumes of meat cost-effectively.

“The cells can be kept multiplying in a financially viable way”

However, after researching how cellular metabolism regulates the division and differentiation of muscle stem cells, the Myocopia team has found another approach to achieve the same cell behavior without using a growth medium. “I believe our innovation is going to be a game changer in the emerging industry as a whole,” Katajisto states.

With the technology developed by Myocopia, the metabolism of cells can be modified so that they divide effectively and form meat only when instructed to do so. The method keeps the cells expanding longer than current methods, enabling the precise control of cells in bioreactors.

“The cells can be kept multiplying in a financially viable way until the reactor is full. The cells are then guided to form meat – again using their own metabolism,” Katajisto said in the announcement.

A bioreactor with cultivated meat
© PrusarooYakk – stock.adobe.com

Supporting cell ag companies

The research team initially explored their innovative concept with support from HiLIFE Proof of Concept funding. Following promising outcomes, they secured a two-year “Research to Business” grant from Business Finland in late 2023 to facilitate commercialization. This project phase will validate the technology on commercially relevant meat, such as beef, pork, and chicken.

Instead of becoming a cultivated meat producer, the Myocopia team aims to establish a spinout company to license its know-how. The tech is patent-pending, and the team expects discussions with VC funds by 2025.

As a technology provider, Myocopia will focus on developing solutions to empower and support the efforts of approximately 150 companies developing cultivated meat products. One such anticipated product is a specialized ‘cocktail’ designed to stimulate cell growth, which can be integrally used in existing bioreactors.

Currently, the team seeks corporate partners to pilot their innovative growth media replacement method. Additionally, they invite discussions with investors keen on supporting biotechnology startups that are set to revolutionize food production.

“We want to increase our understanding of the market and finetune our technology,” comments Swetha Gopalakrishnan, scientific lead of the Myocopia project, responsible for the original observation that led to the innovation.

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