Medical Technology to make consumer products
Prof. Dr. Mark Post
Mosa Meat BV/Qorium BV/UM
Since the start of scientific development of cultivated meat in 2005 major steps have been made to convert this medical technology into a food production process. Whereas some of the developments remain based on results and concepts derived from the far larger and better funded regenerative medicine research, additional challenges force the cultivated meat society to pursue divergent routes. The unimaginable scale of cell/tissue production and need for low-cost production are challenges of technical and logistic nature. Not only rigorous optimization of existing processes but also novel scientific development is required to overcome these challenges, for instance delay senescence of adult stem cells during culture. Biomaterials and coatings play a big role in this innovation, as will manufacturing. They are currently necessary as scaffolds for cell and tissue production, and their use will be extended when more complex tissues are being created. To reduce the cost of production, feedstock that is traditionally pharma-grade will be exchanged for food-grade substitutes and likely cruder hydrolysates. Consumer related challenges of a more ethical nature are also different between medical and food applications. The need for animal-component free culture of cells and tissues, abstinence of antibiotics and, for some consumers, genetic modification limit the solution-space available to developers of cultivated meat and for materials needed. At the same time, consumers are increasingly willing to accept alternative sources of meat, giving the field an appreciable tailwind. For cultivated leather, similar boundary conditions apply, yet ethical and regulatory considerations will be different. High quality of leather is also at least 10-fold more expensive than meat, so that price parity with cultivated products can be reached earlier. Given the huge potential for improvement and extension of applied tissue engineering for food, this will be an exciting scientific endeavor for the next couple of decades.
Dr Mark Post, MD/PhD, has had several academic appointments at Utrecht University, Harvard University, Dartmouth college, Eindhoven University of Technology and Maastricht University. He currently is professor of Sustainable Industrial Tissue Engineering at Maastricht University. He is visiting professor at Harvard, University of Modena and faculty at Singularity University. His main research interest is the engineering of tissues for various applications. Tissue engineering for Food has led to the development of cultured beef from bovine skeletal muscle stem cells. The same technology is used to culture leather. Dr Post co-authored 190 papers in leading peer-reviewed scientific journals and received during his career over 50 million dollars in funding and awards from different sources including government, charity and industry. He is a frequent speaker at international events on innovation in the agrifood sector. He presented the world’s first hamburger from cultured beef in the August 2013 for which he received the World Technology Award from AAAS/Times/Forbes. Dr Post is CSO and co-founder of Mosa Meat and of Qorium, two companies that aim to commercialize meat and leather applications of tissue engineering. Together, these companies have received over 80 million euro of investment.