Laboratory-grown meat has been stuck in the experimental stage. For it to become a commercially viable industry, tissue needs to be grown efficiently at scale.
When Laura Domigan started her research group at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, in 2015, she hoped to continue her work developing protocols for growing cell-based meat in the laboratory. But with funding for cultivated-meat research practically non-existent in academia at the time, Domigan pivoted to working on biomedical materials for use in tissue engineering. A protein biochemist by training, she focused her efforts on creating artificial corneas for eye surgery — a far cry from anything resembling a lab-grown steak.
Still, she never gave up on her dream of studying in vitro meat. “I had to be super patient and keep trying,” Domigan says. And although it took several years, Domigan’s strategy eventually paid off.
Initially, she secured funding for a PhD student to begin developing formulations of nutrient media to grow cell-based meat. Then, in October 2020, a team led by Domigan won a multi-million dollar grant from the New Zealand and Singaporean governments to explore questions such as which cells are the best starting material for cultured meat, and is the nutritional profile of meat grown in a lab equivalent to the real thing. “There is so much research that needs to be done,” Domigan says. And much of it is only beginning to happen, at least in any sort of transparent way.
The project began in October 2020 and will conclude in December 2020.
NZ project team members from CHEMMAT include:
Chemmat’s Dr Laura Domigan
Chemmat’s Dr Sophia Rodrigues
Congratulations Laura and Sophia!