Tobacco Has New Role To Play In Lab-Grown Meat, Biotech Startup Says

By: Gyarmati Orsolya Date: 2022. 04. 01. 08:30

Israeli startup BioBetter is repurposing tobacco plants to produce ingredients that promote cell growth in a step that could remove one of the biggest obstacles to large-scale lab meat manufacturing.

Cultivated meat, which is grown from animal muscle cells in a laboratory, has been getting a lot of attention as a way to address climate change by cutting energy, land and water use in the meat industry.

But unlike plant-based substitutes, popularised by the likes of Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, cultivated meat technology remains niche due to hurdles including availability of so-called meat cell growth factors, which are difficult to produce.

To solve this problem, BioBetter is inserting the relevant gene sequences into tobacco cells to ‘teach’ them to produce the cell growth factors – a technology called recombinant DNA that is also used in other areas such as medical insulin production.


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