(February 23, 2021 / JNS) With its research partner at the Faculty of Biomedical Engineering at the Technion‒Israel Institute of Technology, Aleph Farms has cultivated the world’s first slaughter-free ribeye steak, using 3D-bioprinting technology and natural building blocks of meat: real cow cells without genetic engineering and immortalization.
With the proprietary technology developed just two years after unveiling the world’s first cultivated thin-cut steak in 2018, which did not utilize 3D bioprinting, the Israeli company now has the ability to produce any type of steak and plan to expand its portfolio of meat products.
Unlike 3D-printing technology, Aleph printed living cells incubated to grow, differentiate and interact to acquire the texture and qualities of a real steak. A proprietary system—similar to the vascularization that occurs naturally in tissues—enabled the perfusion of nutrients across the thicker tissue and grants the steak with the similar shape and structure of its native form as found in livestock before and during cooking.
“This breakthrough reflects an artistic expression of the scientific expertise of our team,” says Didier Toubia, co-founder and CEO of Aleph Farms. “This accomplishment represents our commitment to meeting our consumer’s unique preferences and taste buds, and we will continue to progressively diversify our offerings. Additional meat designs will drive a larger impact in the mid and long term.”
He adds, however, that “we recognize some consumers will crave thicker and fattier cuts of meat.”
The cultivated ribeye steak is thicker than its first product: a thin-cut steak. It incorporates muscle and fat like its slaughtered counterpart, as well as boasts the same organoleptic attributes of a tender, juicy ribeye steak bought from the butcher.
“With the realization of this milestone, we have broken barriers to introducing new levels of variety into the cultivated meat cuts we can now produce,” says Technion Professor Shulamit Levenberg, co-founder, chief scientific adviser and one of the major sources of brainpower behind the company’s IP. “As we look into the future of 3D-bioprinting, the opportunities are endless.”
Levenberg, a global leader in tissue engineering amassed over two decades of research at the Technion and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, she is also the former dean of the Biomedical Engineering Faculty at the Technion.
As for Toubia, he says the milestone “marks a major leap in fulfilling our vision of leading a global food-system transition towards a more sustainable, equitable and secure world.”
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