Insect Cell Culture
Making cultured meat from insects
Tufts University, United States
Who: Natalie Rubio, Ph.D. student in biomedical engineering
When: 2016 – 2021
Institutes: Tufts University, NIH P41 Tissue Engineering Resource Center, United States
Supervisors: David Kaplan, professor and chair of biomedical engineering at Tufts University
Natalie is researching how to grow a food extremely similar to conventional meat from insects. As a neglected area of research, this work first involves establishing cell lines and serum-free media formulations for insect species. Natalie will then develop sustainable and edible scaffolds to culture the cells in a 3D format. Finally, she will assess the nutrient profile and texture of the tissues compared to conventional meat products.
Unlike mammalian cells, insect cells are happy to grow in a wide range of conditions and can even continue growing when starved. By sidestepping the challenges involved in cultured mammalian cells, Natalie’s research provides an exciting opportunity to advance the field.
Natalie’s work laid the groundwork for producing muscle and fat using insect cells. Her work developed the techniques to collect, grow, feed and store the cells, and the materials to form 3D tissues for food production. In addition, Natalie looked into the environmental and economic impacts of these processes, through life cycle and techno-economic assessments, respectively.
To find out more about this project, listen to our podcast where we talk to Natalie about lab-grown meat, insect cell culture, and how the Kaplan Lab became a hub for cultured meat .Listen Now
ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering, 2022