Beefing Up Fake Pork


From Nature:

Myosatellite cells grown on a scaffold will fuse into myofibres, which then bundle together to make up muscle. But lab-assembled muscles are weak and textureless. “It’s like when you take off a cast after six weeks,” says Post. To get the muscle to bulk up with protein requires exercise. Assembling the myofibres between anchor points helps, as this creates a natural tension for the muscle to flex against. Post uses this type of arrangement to boost the protein content of a muscle strip from 100 milligrams to about 800 milligrams over a few weeks. He also administers 10-volt shocks every second, which can bump protein content up to about a gram. This much electricity would be expensive in a scaled-up industrial process, so his group is hoping to learn how to mimic chemical signals that tell muscles to contract. “This could have much greater impact than any of the medical work I’d been doing over 20 years.”

Vladimir Mironov of the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston is instead using a scaffold made of chitosan microbeads — chitosan can be sourced from crabs or fungi — that expand and contract with temperature swings, thus making a natural fitness centre for his muscle strips.

“Food: A taste of things to come?”, Nicola Jones, Nature News