Bioprinting Dinner, And Maybe Even Organs

Think about the meat on your plate and where it comes from. Consider the process from slaughter to table. Science at Modern Meadow has potentially devised a way to print a 3D model of meat that may be gracing your table in lieu of cow. Prototypes of bio-engineered meat have been rendered, but are not yet suitable for consumption.

Modern Meadow is pitching bioprinted meat as a more environmentally-friendly way to satisfy a natural human craving for animal protein. Cnet quotes Co-founder and CEO of Modern Meadow, Andras Forgacs, criticizing the overall cost of traditional livestock practices, saying:

“If you look at the resource intensity of everything that goes into a hamburger, it is an environmental train wreck.”

Additive manufacturing or 3D printing is a process of rendering a three dimensional solid objects from a digital model. 3D printing is achieved using additive processes, where an object is created by laying down successive layers of material. Additive manufacturing takes virtual blueprints and uses them to form digital cross-sections for the machine as a guideline for printing. Model construction can take several hours or days depending on the size and complexity of the product.

The technology is used in jewelry, fashion, architecture, engineering and construction, automotive, aerospace, dental, forensic, education, and several other fields.

In bioengineering meat, instead of linking particles of polymers, the technology biolinks thousands of living cells. This process is also being tested in replicating artificial organs for transplantation and regenerative medicine. Researchers at Columbia University managed to implant a 3D-printed jaw scaffolding into a rat. With the aid of implanted stem cells, the rat managed to naturally generate teeth, according to the BBC. Wake Forest University in North Carolina is using a similar principle of regenerative medicine for burn victims and wounded soldiers, testing how wounded mice respond to bioprinted cells.

Lindy Fishburne, executive director of Breakout Labs, says:

“Modern Meadow is combining regenerative medicine with 3D printing to imagine an economic and compassionate solution to a global problem. We hope our support will help propel them through the early stage of their development, so they can turn their inspired vision into reality.”