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Cultured meat grows in space, attracts funds

by Melody M. Bomgardner
October 20, 2019 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 97, Issue 41


This image shows a hovering blob of meat made on the International Space Station.
Credit: 3D Bioprinting Solutions
This morsel of cultured beef was printed on the International Space Station.

Recent investor activity and an unusual experiment on the International Space Station show that start-ups working to produce meat without animals are making strides. Aleph Farms, based in Israel, sent vials containing multiplying bovine blast cells and nutrient media to the space station. Cosmonauts inserted the vials into printers made by the Russian firm 3D Bioprinting Solutions to produce a morsel of beef in microgravity. The firms hope to someday provide protein for deep-space missions and Mars colonies. In May, Aleph raised $11.6 million from investors. Meanwhile, another Israeli start-up, Future Meat Technologies, has raised $14 million from investors to build its first pilot facilities. The company aims to produce steak for less than $10 per pound and sell its hardware and cell lines to firms wanting to manufacture cell-based meat. And the potential for an animal-free surf-and-turf meal increased with a first round of venture backing for cultured-salmon-focused Wild Type: the San Francisco–based start-up raised $12.5 million.


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