- Cell line development
At present, cultivated meat companies working with unconventional terrestrial species, unique breeds, and many seafood species are forced to expend time and resources obtaining genomic data and annotations for their target species. Because this knowledge confers little to no long-term competitive advantage, companies are incentivized to hold their genomic data privately to justify the investment and maintain an initial barrier to entry for potential competitors. This leads to duplication of efforts and a sustained lack of access for academic researchers. Robust genomic data are essential for developing species confirmation assays (which is extremely important as cross-contamination of cell lines has been shown to occur in research laboratories) as well as garnering greater insights into cell metabolism and identifying safe harbor loci for cell line optimization efforts.
While some common terrestrial animals such as cows and pigs have sequence annotations and commercially-available identification tests, these resources still need to be created for the majority of species to be used in cultivated meat production. A survey of the species currently being pursued and intended for future pursuits by cultivated meat companies should first be performed to inform prioritization of genomic sequencing and annotation efforts to fill these knowledge gaps. Sequencing efforts should include representative individuals from multiple breeds and geographic regions to capture the genetic diversity of each species. STR and COI assays should be created, validated, and, ideally commercialized for any species for which they do not yet exist. Lastly, the genomic data can be leveraged to identify and validate safe harbor loci for species used in cultivated meat using established methods (e.g., homology mapping, common AAV insertion sites, and gene trapping).
The availability of comprehensive and robust genomic annotations will also enable a variety of additional experimental strategies to be created for cultivated meat research and development, including enhancing systems biology and modeling approaches to accelerate R&D through improved predictive capabilities.
The impact of having robust and broadly available (open-access) genomic sequences for all species used in cultivated meat production is hard to understate. These data are foundational to many experimental improvements and critical for assay development for both research and manufacturing purposes such as quality assurance. In particular, these data permit the development of species-specific identification assays that can be used to detect cross-contamination of cell lines and may be required by regulatory agencies before selling products to consumers. In addition, the identification of genomic safe harbor sites has historically unlocked the potential to conduct gene insertion studies that may aid in cell line performance optimization and ease potential regulatory concerns of gene insertions if they are incorporated in future commercial products.
Use this crowdsourced directory to find species-specific information on research tools, reagents, protocols, and data for cultivated meat researchers.
This report details the commercial landscape, investments, regulatory developments, and scientific progress in the cultivated meat and seafood industry.
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Related GFI research grants
GFI grantee Dr. Simon Kahan at the Cultivated Meat Modeling Consortium is using computational modeling to improve bioreactor design for meat cultivation.
Learn about Dr. Peter Stogios’ research engineering improved and lower-cost growth factors for cultivated meat at University of Toronto.
Learn about Dr. Marcelle Machluf’s work designing cellular building blocks for cultivated meat with at Technion – Israel Institute of Technology.
GFI grantee Dr. Mariana Petronela Hanga is researching culturing different cell types at the same time.
If you’d like to fund a research project, work on any of these solutions, share information about related efforts that are already underway, or elevate new ideas for advancing the alternative protein industry, we’d love to hear from you!