FDA’s Approval Of Cell Culture Chicken: The Rise Of Fresh Meat Without The Animal?

On November 14th of this year, the FDA cleared the path for Upside Foods to sell its cell-culture-based chicken products within the US. This is the first product of its kind to be cleared for commercial sale within the Americas, with only Singapore having previously cleared a similar product for sale, back in December of 2020. This latter product comes courtesy of another California start-up called Eat Just.

Since that initial approval in Singapore, Eat Just has begun to set up a 2,800 square meter (~30,000 square feet) production facility in Singapore that is scheduled to begin producing thousands of kilograms of slaughter-free meat starting in the first quarter of 2023. This would make it the top-runner in the cultured meat industry, which to this point has seen dozens of start-ups, but precious few actual products for sale.

With CEO Josh Tetrick of Eat Just projecting price equality between their cultured meat and meat from animals by 2030, could the FDA’s approval herald the dawn of slaughter-free meat? There are obviously still hurdles, but as we’ll see, the idea is not nearly as far-fetched as one might think.

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Tube Tumbler Provides The Perfect Culture

We’ve all had to shake jars of nail polish, model paint, or cell cultures. Mixing paint is easy – but bacteria and cells need to be agitated for hours.  Happily, laboratory tube tumblers automate this for us. The swishing action is handled with rotation. The vials are mounted at angles around a wheel. The angular offset means the tubes are inclined as they rise, and declined as they fall. This causes the liquid in the tube to slosh from one side to the other as the wheel rotates.  [Sebastian S. Cocioba] aka [ATinyGreenCell] released his plans through Tinkercad and GitHub, and with a name like Sir Tumbalot, we know he must be cultured indeed.

Grab your monocles. Version 2 features a driven wheel lined with magnets to attach tube adapters, and he’s modeled 50mL and twin 15mL tube holders. The attachment points look like a simple beveled rectangle with a magnet pocket, so if you’re feeling vigorous for vials, you can whip up custom sockets and tumble any darn thing. A Trinamic StealthChop chip on a custom PCB controls the pancake stepper, and the whole shebang should cost less than $50USD. We’re wondering what other purposes this modular design could have, like the smallest rock tumbler or resin print rinser.

Making lab equipment is phenomenal for saving money for things that just spin up to a biotech lab.

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DIY Cryogel Sustains Live Cells

We like to think our readers are on the cutting edge. With the advent of CRISPR kits at home and DIY bio blooming in workshops across the world, we wanted to share a video which may be ahead of its time. [The Thought Emporium] has just shown us a way to store eukaryotic cells at room temperature. His technique is based on a paper published in Nature which he links to from the YouTube page, but you can see his video after the break.

Eukaryotic cells, the kind we are made of, have been transported at low temperatures with techniques like active refrigeration, liquid nitrogen, and dry ice but those come with a host of problems like cost, convenience, and portability. Storing the cells with cryogel has been shown to reliably keep the cells stable for up to a week at a time and [The Thought Emporium] made some in his homemade freeze-dryer which he’s shown us before. The result looks like a potato chip, but is probably less nutrious than astronaut ice cream.

If cell transport doesn’t tickle your fancy, cryogel is fascinating by itself as a durable, lightweight insulator similar to Aerogel. You can make Aerogel at home too.
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