Investing in 3D printed meat

Billionaire Peter Thiel is backing a startup that wants to print 3D leather products and meat.

Paypal co-founder Peter Thiel recently announced that the Thiel Foundation is investing in a new company that wants to generate 3D printed meat.

Modern Meadow, a startup based in Columbia, Missouri, will receive $350,000 to continue to develop bioprinting to create leather products made from animal cells. If that is successful the company will then move on to printing ready-to-eat meat replacement.

"Modern Meadow is combining regenerative medicine with 3D printing to imagine an economic and compassionate solution to the global problem,” Lindy Fishburne, executive director of Breakout Labs, part of the Thiel Foundation, said in a statement.

The CEO of the startup is none other than Andras Forgacs, whose father Gabor, developed the bioprinting technique, which uses cells to build organs and tissues that are printed in three dimensions. His San-Diego based regenerative medicine company, Organovo, uses bioprinting on a range of medical applications including drug discovery, drug testing.

Andras said that the new company is an outgrowth of his father’s.

He told Co.Exist: "The idea struck us that if we can make medical-grade tissues that are good enough for drug companies, good enough for patients, then certainly we can find other applications for tissue engineering."

If successful, some say this new substance could be an environmentally friendly alternative to standard meats. And the process is easier than growing organs according to Modern Meadow’s grant application to the Department of Agriculture:

"As meat is a post mortem tissue, the vascularization of the final product is less critical than in medical applications (although important for taste an objective to be further pursued in Phase II). Overall, this process allows for greater structural precision than other approaches and higher throughput for eventual scaling to industrial production."

The company said that the product will be marketed to vegetarians and others who reject meat for ethical reasons. And the hope is that with the reduction in price, the product can reach those with religious restrictions "and finally populations with limited access to safe meat production."

Via Co.Exist

Photo via flickr/Procsilas Moscas

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