Scientists at Osaka University in Japan have managed to print lab-grown steak that they say greatly resembles products made from the world-renowned breeds of Wagyu beef cattle — an environmentally conscious and sustainable alternative to a genuine delicacy.
The team harvested two types of stem cells from Wagyu cows, incubated them, and then converted them into muscle, fat, and blood vessel cells, as detailed in a new paper published in the journal Nature Communications.
The end product is a three-dimensional stack, five by 10 millimeters in size, of high fat content steak that features the intricate marbling of Wagyu beef.
“Using the histological structure of Wagyu beef as a blueprint, we have developed a 3D-printing method that can produce tailor-made complex structures, like muscle fibers, fat, and blood vessels,” said lead author Dong-Hee Kang in a statement.
The scientists say that the process could even be used to create fully customized pieces of Wagyu steak, a dream for any meat lover willing to give lab-grown beef a try.
“By improving this technology, it will be possible to not only reproduce complex meat structures, such as the beautiful sashi of Wagyu beef, but to also make subtle adjustments to the fat and muscle components,” senior author Michiya Matsusaki said.
The lab-grown meat industry is starting to morph into a fully fledged commercial enterprise, with the first-ever lab grown meat factory opening up in Israel in June.
In fact, the Osaka University researchers aren’t alone in wanting to develop lab Wagyu. Orbillion Bio, a Silicon Valley startup, recently demoed similar exotic meats including a Wagyu meatloaf and elk.
The advantages of culturing meat in a lab are considerable: not only does it sidestep animal cruelty concerns and potentially impact the environment far less, but customers could look forward to meat that perfectly captures their personal preferences.
READ MORE: Raising the steaks: First 3D-bioprinted structured Wagyu beef-like meat unveiled [Osaka University]