What is the cell bank?
The cell bank is stocked with primary cells relevant to cultivated meat research. It was developed in collaboration between Extracellular and Multus, who provided protocols and key materials to de-risk the cell bank project and independent quality control for cell identification, cryopreservation, and growth characterisation.
The initiative has been funded by an InnovateUK grant to generate cell banks of primary cells relevant to the cultivated meat industry. Extracellular worked with local farmers and the University of Bristol’s Veterinary School to obtain tissue samples.
The cell bank initially offers cells isolated from the fat, muscle, and bone marrow tissues of cows, pigs and lambs. Information on the cells’ provenance, from the age, breed, and sex of the animal, to the passage numbers and expected population doubling times, will be included with each batch. More animal species and tissue types will be made available in the future.
Why is the cell bank important for cultivated meat companies?
The cell bank initiative was developed to support early-stage cultivated meat companies and researchers by providing high-quality animal primary cells suitable for cultivated meat research and development.
The cell bank provides cells that are up to 90% cheaper than other cell line providers and free from licensing restrictions.
For those starting out, it is lowering the sector’s major barriers to entry.
For those at an early stage but already established, it allows them to focus time and resources on differentiation over cell sourcing.
This means that cultivated meat researchers can save time on developing their products, and save money on licences and the starting material - cells.
Why could this be a game-changer for the cultivated meat industry?
Currently, animal primary cells relevant for cultivated meat research are expensive, often of poor quality, and have limited information regarding their performance or provenance. Their use is also limited by licensing or commercial agreements that can impede innovative technologies and approaches in this nascent field.
All animal cells must be securely sourced and characterised in robust cell banks for research, development, and commercialisation. However, due to the existing barriers in cost and quality of sourcing cells, cultivated meat companies have typically been secretive about their tissue sources and provenance.
By establishing the cell bank, Extracellular and Multus aim to create a more accessible and transparent environment for research and innovation in this space.
The bank allows the cultivated meat research community to access consistent, high-quality cells and detailed, relevant information on their provenance and behaviour. This means more time spent on differentiation, quality and scaling.
What are the challenges for cultivated meat R&D, and how can the cell bank help tackle them?
Many organisations in the cultivated meat sector face two key challenges in developing their novel technologies.
1. Obtaining cells.
One potential source of cells is the biomedical industry. However, those are highly expensive, require licensing agreements or contracts for their use, and are often limited in species or breeds. After all, cells used in cultivating meat must not only be safe, but their structural, flavour, and visual characteristics matter too.
Therefore, if biomedical suppliers are a no-go, cultivated meat researchers must either risk the expense of potentially poor-quality starting materials or source cells themselves.
2. Isolating cells.
Isolation is the process of separating and purifying cells. Unfortunately, the laboratory protocols for harvesting and isolating cells from tissue are typically developed with biomedical research in mind and fail to serve cultivated meat researchers.
In any process, the quality of the starting material matters.
Ensuring quality involves:
Without this information, researchers cannot know what to expect regarding cells’ performance, as even individual differences between animals from which the cells originate can impact how the isolated cells grow and perform.
For this reason, setting up the cell bank with diverse species and tissue isolates with corresponding cell culture protocols should help significantly de-risk entry to cultivated meat research and development.
The cultivated meat sector can now focus on innovation, as the cell bank removes the main barriers to scaling cultivated meat products by providing high-quality starting materials, standardised information and media.
The benefits of the cell bank to cultivated meat (in summary):
It is now possible for cultivated meat researchers and companies to:
After all, if scaled effectively, cultivated meat technology promises more efficient and sustainable production of meat to supply increasing global demand.
Sign up for email updates:
Multus has opened a world first media manufacturing facility to help scaling cultivated meat companies cut costs and accelerate from lab to market.Read more →
Quest Meat and Multus are working together to create affordable and sustainable cultivated meat production technology that scales.Read more →