Industry

Solutions Database

Improving affordability, nutrition, and organoleptic properties of cultivated meat through co-cultures with support cells

Skeletal muscle is composed of approximately 90% muscle fibers, along with adipose, connective, nervous, and vascular tissue (Listrat et al. 2016). Cultivated meat research focuses primarily on muscle fibers and fat cells. However, the other cell types in muscle serve important functions that are potentially underappreciated in their relevance to cultivated meat. In the context of a whole animal, muscle tissue does not exist in isolation. For example, organs such as the liver process waste products and synthesize growth factors and other beneficial compounds. Research into co-culture methods with various support cells could solve a variety of challenges on the road to developing affordable, high-quality cultivated meat.

Solutions Database

B2B bioreactor technology company

Alternative protein companies would benefit from the availability of off-the-shelf or customizable bioreactors for cultivated meat and fermentation-derived products. This need could be filled by increased investment in and support of existing companies (see "Related Efforts"), creation of new companies, or strategic pivots by companies currently producing bioreactor technology for other applications.

Solutions Database

Biomaterials for scaffolding

A handful of companies and researchers are developing scaffold materials for use in various steps of the cultivated meat production process, but to date the topic of scaffolding has been largely overshadowed by the challenge of producing cell mass at scale. This is a topic in need of much more research and development as the industry matures in order to enable the development of products that have meat-like structure and texture, which will be more appealing to consumers than unstructured meat products.

Solutions Database

Metabolic modeling for cultivated meat

Academic researchers or consortia consisting of several cultivated meat companies should undertake research aimed at understanding metabolic pathways and fluxes within cultivated meat-relevant cell types. The outputs of this research could be used to improve the efficiency of media optimization efforts and to enhance the organoleptic and nutritional properties of cultivated meat products.

Solutions Database

Affordable animal-free omega-3 ingredients for alternative seafood and other alternative protein applications

In order to appeal to health-conscious consumers, alternative seafood products should contain similar omega-3 fatty acids, especially DHA and EPA, content to conventional seafood. Animal-free omega-3 ingredients can be expensive and supply can be inconsistent. Scaling up animal-free omega-3 production is critical to the success of the global alternative seafood market, which is seeing increased attention and promising growth. Adding omega-3 to other alternative protein products could also provide a great point of differentiation while improving health appeal.

Solutions Database

Novel methods for long-chain omega-3 fatty acid production

As the alternative seafood industry scales up, a low-cost and abundant source of long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids will become necessary. Several means of producing these compounds have been investigated and commercialized, but additional innovation is needed to build a robust and scalable supply chain. Methods that would benefit from additional research include precision fermentation and cell-free systems.

Solutions Database

Preventing oxidation of omega-3 fatty acids before and after addition to alternative seafood products

Deeper fundamental knowledge of the causes and prevention of oxidation of omega-3 fatty acids before, during, and after addition to alternative seafood products is needed to improve their nutritional and organoleptic properties. While several approaches to prevent oxidation of unsaturated lipids in conventional seafood products have been developed, antioxidation methods must be tailored to the formulations and processing of alternative seafood products, or perhaps new methods must be developed altogether.

Solutions Database

Understanding uptake and interconversion of omega-3 fatty acids by cultivated fish cells

Although fish are one of the best dietary sources of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (FAs), these compounds are mostly bioaccumulated from a fish’s diet rather than synthesized de novo. Consistent with this, studies have found evidence of reduced omega-3 content in fish as a result of replacing fish-based feed with plant-based feed. Therefore, for cultivated fish to compete with conventionally-produced products, it will be necessary to identify cost-effective strategies for increasing the content of nutritionally-important omega-3 FAs in cultivated fish.

Solutions Database

Scaffolding development for culinary and biomechanical requirements of cultivated seafood

A number of published studies have focused on scaffolds for cultivated meat (see Related Efforts) yet, to our knowledge, no studies have specifically attempted to formulate scaffolds for fish or tested growth of fish cells on scaffolds developed for terrestrial meat. Because fish uniquely differ from terrestrial meat in structure, research aimed specifically at developing and testing scaffolds for fish products would advance the industry. Both scaffolding materials as well as methods for achieving the correct three-dimensional structure should be investigated.

Solutions Database

Building interdisciplinary university research centers of excellence

Interdisciplinary research is essential for tackling many of the complex problems facing today’s world. Though the number of research projects advancing alternative protein science has increased in recent years, this research has been conducted in a largely disjointed fashion with few centralized hubs for coordination. The field would benefit from dedicated interdisciplinary research centers to drive the science and technology needed to address our unsustainable food and agriculture system. University centers of excellence are essential to rallying researchers and industry partners to tackle complex questions facing the alternative protein field today.