viernes, 11 de enero de 2013

Billionaire Peter Thiel donates to 3D meat bioprinting lab

16 August 12

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The Thiel Foundation has made a six-figure grant to a series of biotechnology startups, including a company that wants to 3D print meat.

Modern Meadow is a Missouri-based startup that believes 3D printing could help to take some of the environmental cost out of producing a hamburger. He said: "If you look at the resource intensity of everything that goes into a hamburger, it is an environmental train wreck."

The company claims that by carefully layering mixtures of cells of different types in a specific structure, in-vitro meat production becomes feasible. It's set a short-term goal of printing a sliver of meat around two centimetres by one centimetre, and less than half a millimetre thick, which is edible.

The company explains in a submission to the United States Department of Agriculture: "The technology has several advantages in comparison to earlier attempts to engineer meat in vitro. The bio-ink particles can be reproducibly prepared with mixtures of cells of different type. Printing ensures consistent shape, while post-printing structure formation and maturation in the bioreactor facilitates conditioning."

However, it admits that the road ahead is strewn with difficulties. "The consumer acceptance of such products may not be without challenges. We expect it will first appeal to culinary early-adopter consumers and the segment of the vegetarian community that rejects meat for ethical reasons. With reduction in price, it can reach the masses with religious restrictions on meat consumption (people restricted to Hindu, Kosher, Halal diets) and finally populations with limited access to safe meat production."

To help the company achieve this aim, Billionaire Peter Thiel has given it a grant of between £160,000 and £220,000, through the Thiel Foundation's "Breakout Labs". Other recipients of grants include Bell Biosystems and Entopsis, both medical startups.

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