In vitro leather possible in five years

19 September 2012

US company, Modern Meadow disclosed in August that the company had received funding from PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel’s foundation to 3-D bioprint meat and leather. Could this be a revolution in the leather industry?

In an exclusive interview with Txchnologist, company Co-founder and CEO Andras Forgacs has broken the silence and revealed some details about Modern Meadow’s goals. Their first project? In vitro leather production.

“Our emphasis first is not on meat, it’s on leather,” Forgacs says. “The main reason is that, technically, skin is a simpler structure than meat, making it easier to produce.”

The company also needs to acclimate potential customers to the idea of tissue-engineering products. It turns out that, initially at least, many consumers might not want to eat engineered meat. “Anecdotally, we’ve found that around 40% of people would be willing to try cultured meat,” he says. “There’s much less controversy around using leather that does not involve killing animals.”

They will work on growing meat in the lab while perfecting their leather process, but Forgacs expects the regulatory approval process could keep Modern Meadow burgers off the dinner plate for another 10 years. A full-scale leather production facility, on the other hand, could be up and running in five years.

In the meantime, the company’s team, which previously founded medical bioprinter manufacturer Organovo, will work for the next two years on perfecting their processes and materials, and creating a small volume of products.

“We’ve got a very good sense of how to proceed, but we’re still in the development stage,” he says.

Source: Scientific American

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