Growing pork meat in bioreactors using pig stem cells has the potential to positively impact environmental and animal rights issues. However, while the technology to do this is established, it is currently prohibitively expensive. A high proportion of this cost is due to the costly external biological and chemical agents required for pig muscle development and maturation. The Garton team, in partnership with Myo Palate, proposes to design synthetic gene circuits that can be integrated with the initial stem cells and direct muscle transformation and maturation processes, obviating the need for external agents. Establishing this proof-of-concept will lay the groundwork for developing a comprehensive genetic circuit for directing pig muscle development in bioreactors.
The proposed project will lay the groundwork for improving the efficiency of cultured meat production. By introducing genetic circuits, the cells will be better able to carry out their differentiation program without the requirement for adding additional soluble factors like recombinant proteins or additives. In addition, the project will improve the safety and lower the cost of cellular agriculture by minimizing the number of components needed to culture meat. Successful completion of this project will establish an engineering biology tool kit for the production of lab-grown pork, which will benefit Ontario’s cellular agriculture food business ecosystem by enhancing cell behaviour at a sustainable cost.