Lego construction set helps grow the right artificial meat

Whether humanity in the future will eat insect protein paste or synthetic meat is still a question. But if it is meat, I would like it to have a shape and structure like real meat. And this is an urgent task for a number of scientists, because only shapeless protein lumps easily grow in a test tube.

In order for meat cells to grow in an orderly manner, they need to be sown on a frame. This problem has long been solved in laboratory conditions, and at the same time it has been proven that meat with an ordered structure is better suited for cooking. One problem is that polymer fibers are usually used as a framework, which are harmless, but who wants to chew plastic? A team of researchers from Pennsylvania State and the University of Alabama decided to try replacing the polymer with cornstarch, an edible and sought-after material.

Wet electrospinning is used to convert starch into fibers. The starch solution is fed to a rotating drum, to which the substance adheres and, as it rotates, is drawn into a long thread. And so that the material does not dry out, the entire installation is placed in a water-alcohol solution. In the process of constructing the installation, it turned out that the ideal material for it are parts from the well-known Lego constructor.

First, the construction set designed for children is durable and resistant to continuous loads. Secondly, plastic is a dielectric. Third, all the parts are very cheap compared to traditional laboratory equipment. Finally, it has no liquid and food compatibility issues. The first experiments on obtaining starch fibers for synthetic meat were successful, and now it is necessary to find out how cells will grow on them.