Israel-based Meat-Tech 3D Ltd. is one of a handful of startups hoping to transform the food industry using 3D bioprinting. Recently, the company announced a significant step forward in its mission to bring slaughter-free meat to people’s tables: it has successfully 3D printed a thin, uniform meat tissue using stem cells.
According to the company, this experiment is its most important achievement to date, as it sets the young firm up to move forward in its multi-year strategy to develop an industrial process for 3D printing and growing edible pieces of beef, all without harming animals. The experiment, called “Project Carpaccio”, demonstrates how Meat-Tech’s proprietary 3D printing process can successfully create a thin layer made up of multiple cell types, which then coalesced and grew into tissue with fat and muscle.
Steven H. Lavin, Meat-Tech Chairman, said of the breakthrough: “Completing this significant milestone earlier than anticipated is a significant technological achievement for Meat-Tech, bringing it one step closer to developing technology to build slaughter-free meat-growing plants combined with printing technology, and demonstrating the company’s ability to print fat and muscle cells to build tissue.”
The carpaccio-like piece of lab-grown meat showcases Meat-Tech’s ability to differentiate stem cells into fat and muscle cells, which in turn enables the synthesis of muscle fibers and fat tissue, like in a real animal. The experiment also highlights the company’s bio-ink materials for depositing the cells into a tissue-like structure. The company’s 3D bioprinting technology, for its part, has the capacity to arrange cells with a high degree of precision and in a way that encourages cell coalescence.
Meat-Tech 3D is not the only company seeking to leverage bioprinting technologies to produce lab-grown, slaughter-free meat for consumption. Even within Israel there are a couple of players, including SavorEat, which recently raised $3 million in funding (with an option for an additional investment of $1 million), and Aleph Farms, which is even seeking to bioprint meat in space.