The Most Important M...
12th August 2021 Editorial by: Multus Media
Cultured Meat Just Took an Important Step Towards Price Parity
In cellular agriculture, a key component is the serum used for the growth medium, which inludes all of the growing factors. For mammalian cells, the traditional choice has always been fetal bovine serum (FBS), as it's naturally rich in growth factors and hormones.
For cell-based meat, however, FBS is far from ideal for many reasons: it's available in limited quantities, and is therefore very expensive, its performance is not always predictable, and it's potentially unsafe. What's more, using FBS in cultivated meat completely defeats the purpose of producing animal-free protein.
Thanks to Multus Media, this is bound to be a temporary problem.
Multus Media is a biotechnology startup that's been developing an animal-free serum to be used in the production in cell-based meat.
The start-up has recently completed a £1.6M ($2.2M / €1.9M) funding round to market its first product, called Proliferum M™.
In this interview, Multus' co-founder and CEO Cai Linton explains the challenges of producing animal-free serum and why this is an important step forward for the cultivated meat space.
Q: Is FBS the only viable solution right now for cell meat companies that are not developing their serum in-house?
For many of the cell types being developed, there is no standard serum-free media that can be used today. Many companies have to rely on FBS for its ability to efficiently grow a wide range of cell types and we are moving quickly to provide serum-free alternatives.
Q: What are the main challenges of developing scalable animal-free serum?
When developing growth media for the cultivated meat industry, there are two considerations needed to meet the requirements of performance, cost and scale.
The first one is making sure that the ingredients are food-safe and easy to produce at scale. The second is that different cells have different needs, so it’s important to combine the right ingredients to make them grow efficiently and consistently.
Q: Is your serum completely animal-free?
Our growth medium, Proliferum M, is entirely serum-free today. Some of the protein ingredients we are buying in for R&D are currently animal-derived, but using microbial fermentation we will remove the need for animals by the time we scale up.
Q: What type of meat is your serum suitable for?
We are designing Proliferum M to be used on mammalian (beef/pork) cells and working with partners to test its performance in other cell types as well. The plan is to develop a catalogue of serum replacements that will be suitable for all of the main cell types and species used across the industry.
Q: How much would a cell meat company save by replacing FBS with your serum?
FBS costs over $1000/L to buy it off the shelf today and is often used as a 10-20% supplement. The technology we are developing in-house will allow us to bring the cost below the threshold of $1/L in the next 5 years, bringing the cost of cultivated meat in line with conventional meat for a scaled production.
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Date Published: 12th August 2021
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