by General Fabb
A new bioprinting startup suddenly appeared: Modern Meadow, courtesy of a small investment by Internet billionaire Peter Thiel. It's goal is to develop lab-grown "food grade animal protein", also known as "meat". The idea is to produce the protein without the massive environmental cost of actual cows, pigs and other meat-laden critters. Their one-line pitch reads:
Applying latest advances in tissue engineering to create meat and leather without the need to raise, slaughter and transport animals.
This is an interesting and possibly necessary development in the long term, but research we've heard of suggests the current state of the art in lab-grown beef is that it's not particularly edible. The texture is the issue. Or rather lack thereof.
Perhaps this could be solved by using 3D bioprinting techniques, which could theoretically arrange beefy bits into appropriate 3D meat sinews? One company we know is investigating that technology is Organovo, of whom we're written a few posts lately.
But wait! If we look at the list of management for Modern Meadow, we find Andras and Gabor Forgacs, the CEO and Chief Scientific Officer of Organovo. Are they still at Organovo? Organovo's site says: "Prof. Forgacs continues to closely advise Organovo", and there is no mention of Andras.
What does this mean? We're not sure, but after the recent spectacular rise and sudden fall of Organovo's stock, it may suggest investors be wary.