Talk about a meat dish. A team has proposed a way to grow meat in the lab. Muscle precursors called myoblasts and myosatellite cells could be extracted from a desired animal and grown on a grooved biofilm or on small collagen beads that swell when heated. Stretching the film or expanding the beads just 10 percent at a time should induce the cells to fuse and become muscle fibers. Investigators have already produced skeletal muscle for clinical applications, and team member Vladimir Mironov of the Medical University of South Carolina is currently growing chicken cells on beads. In theory, a handful of animals could produce the world’s meat supply without being sacrificed, says Jason Matheny of the University of Maryland, co-author of the May issue Tissue Engineering paper that lays out these ideas.
This article was originally published with the title "In Meatro" in Scientific American 293, 3, 36 (September 2005)