We reported back in August last year about the US based start-up called Modern Meadow and their plans to start printing biomaterials with 3D printers, eventually yielding meat products for human consumption. Bioprinting is a popular topic for very obvious reasons as these technical advances are not only looking into food products, but has the potential to be applied for creating artificial organs for transplants.
Professor Gabor Forgacs from the University of Missouri, and the co-founder of Modern Meadow, explained the difference between creating an organ and producing edible meat: “When you want to engineer an organ you have a zillion conditions and requirements to fulfil. You have to be extremely careful as a tissue or an organ are very complex structures”.
He continued: “In the case of meat, if you think about a hamburger, its lateral dimensions are much bigger than its thickness so that makes the printing considerably simpler. So we’re not dealing with incredibly complex 3D shapes, intertwined channels, and so on – we want to build something that has this quasi-2D shape”.
Professor Gabor is also the co-founder of another US based company called Organovo, which specialises in bioprinted live structures for medical purposes. Back in 2010, Organovo came into the public eye when they successfully printed functional blood vessels made from the cells taken from human being.
Both professor Gabor’s ventures are very forward looking and it is difficult to estimate when we will actually see the first mass-produced, affordable 3D printed burgers or 3D printed transplants for the medical industry. What can be said for sure is the the journey into bioprinted meat and regenerative medicine is going to continue with more companies and laboratories developing their various methods in their efforts to bring these project closer to our everyday lives.
The researchers at Maastricht University in the Netherlands are amongst the first to showcase their efforts to the public by creating the world’s first artificial hamburger later this year — but while it’s possible, it’s not necessarily feasible. With a price tag circa $30k, the process may need some refinement. However, we are keen to follow the developments – and maybe taste one?