Entries in Lab-Grown (2)


Lab-Grown Meat: Food of the Future?

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(CHARLESTON, S.C.) -- Next time you fire up the grill for a backyard barbecue, think about this: at some point in the future, those steaks sizzling over the flames might not come from livestock, but a lab.

For some scientists, so-called "test-tube" meat has been the dream of decades. And fueled by concerns about the consequences of meat consumption for our health, the environment and animal welfare, the movement is gaining momentum.

At universities in the U.S. and Europe, researchers are working to develop lab-grown meat that looks and tastes like the real deal.  And one leading bioengineer said he's even drawing up a business plan for a start-up that would bring synthetic meat to market.

"I think the future of human food, is food that becomes not just a way to survive, but also a way to become better," said Dr. Vladimir Mironov, an associate professor at the Medical University of South Carolina.  "Most people try to imitate natural meat -- it must be the same taste, texture, structure.  What I want to say is that we can create better than nature -- not just food, but a 'nutraceutical.'"

Do you like your steak extra fatty or wish that it could boost your brain power? Mironov said that with a little bit of bioengineering those benefits can be baked into a final product.

For the past decade, Mironov has been working to develop lab-grown meat from stem cells bathed in a nutrient-rich bioreactor mixture.  With the help of Nicholas Genovese, a research associate funded by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), he's experimented with ways to engineer nutrition and taste into cultured meat.  Now, he's working up plans to turn his research into a diner's reality.

To make cultured, or in vitro, meat, scientists take the cells from an animal and then let them grow in a plant-based mixture of nutrients.  As the cells develop, they attach to a natural scaffold (or biodegradable foundation) to create the muscle tissue that comprises meat -- all without the raising and slaughtering of animals.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Lab-Grown Urethras Prove to Be Successful

Comstock/Thinkstock(WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.) -- Severe damage to the urethra leading to the inability to urinate frequently requires reconstructive procedures. The current standard of practice involves growing urethral replacements from the patient's skin in a petri dish.  But skin isn't the same as urethral tissue, so these procedures sometimes lead to improper tissue development necessitating repeated surgeries. But a new study, published in The Lancet, reports a new method of growing urethras using bladder cell, eliminating improper tissue development.

This study focused on five boys with an average age of 11 years with urethral defects. Instead of taking skin samples, the authors swabbed the urethral area for cells and grew them into tubular urethras in a petri dish.  These grafts were then used to replace the damaged urethra.  After three months, the implanted urethras developed a normal appearance with no defects and the children had normal urine flow up to six years after the procedure.

The study authors concluded that this procedure could become an alternative to the current standard of practice, leading to fewer complications and subsequent surgeries.

"The study shows that 'tissues can be engineered using the patients' own cells, and they last long term," said Dr. Anthony Atala, director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine and a co-author of the study.

Urethral reconstructive surgery by current methods has only a 50-percent success rate, Dr. Atala told ABC News. However by using tissue from the same organ, with their technique, the chances of failure are greatly reduced. 

Dr. Atala also added that clinical trials are underway for the same procedure in adult patients.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

ABC News Radio