Cells that self-assemble into meat
Technical University of Munich, Germany
University of Southern California, United States
Who: Frea Mehta, Ph.D. student
When: 2021 – Present
Institutes: Technical University of Munich, Germany; University of Southern California, United States
Supervisors: Gil Westmeyer, professor of neurobiological engineering at the Technical University of Munich; Leonardo Morsut, assistant professor of stem cell biology and regenerative medicine at the University of Southern California
Frea is engineering cells that can self-assemble into the naturally occurring patterns of meat. Using synthetic biology tools, she will design cells that respond to user-defined cues to differentiate into muscle, fat, or vasculature in the right spatial arrangement.
Typically, signals in the body instruct cells to form the patterns of muscle and fat that give meat its taste and texture. When cells are cultured outside the animal, however, those instructions are missing — forcing scientists to resort to complex and expensive strategies to direct cells where to go.