Cellular Agriculture: Vegans Dream or Meat-eaters Nightmare?

The day is coming when there will be a more efficient supply chain for the production of meat and meat by-products. A new field of science known as Cellular Agriculture is using bioengineering technology to produce meat, poultry, eggs, dairy, and leather, in a laboratory instead of on a farm. You could drink cow’s milk, and eat eggs, meat, and poultry without the unwanted saturated fats, cholesterol, hormones, and antibiotics. Tissue engineering is even being employed in biofabrication of leather and fur, negating moral issues of raising animals for clothing and luxury. All of this without the use or slaughter of  animals.

What is Cellular Agriculture? 

Cellular agriculture is a new way to cultivate foods normally produced through traditional agriculture. Instead of raising livestock for meat, dairy, and other meat by-products, these items are produced in a lab, without the slaughter and continuous use of animals. Foods like eggs, milk, and beef can be bioengineered ex-vivo – using cell culture methods. Cellular agriculture can produce both cellular and acellular products. Cellular products, like beef, chicken, and turkey, are made by culturing cells derived from the original animal. Acellular products on the other hand do not contain any mammalian cells, and are derived from bioengineered microbes. Continue reading

Fetal Bovine Serum Price Increase Impacts Research and Development

The price of Fetal Bovine Serum (FBS) has drastically increased! At my university, we typically requested FBS from a large in-house supply purchased wholesale from an external source. One reason for this was to maintain consistency, as fetal bovine serum tends to vary from batch to batch. However, purchasing this way kept cost down ­– one half liter bottle of FBS could run around 500 dollars. Recently, the department sent out a notification that each lab would no longer be able to obtain a bottle of FBS, without it counting against its weekly budget. Going forward, 200 dollars will be deducted, reducing the overall funds available for the weekly purchase of other lab supplies.

Yesterday, I asked the Chairman’s secretary why this change had been made. She only knew that the price had gone up exponentially, but not why. So, I decided to do some investigatory work of my own. People often don’t understand that research is very expensive and time consuming work. An increase in the cost of supplies, means a decrease in how far the budget can be stretched, and an increase in the time it takes to get in essential supplies. Continue reading

Cell Culture: Preparing mammalian cells for storage

I have been working in vitro with monocyte cells for the past few months. I was fortunate to receive a flask of already cultured cells from a neighboring lab – fortunate because my lab did not have to pay to procure them. However, that meant I did not have a stock supply or a back-up  of the cell-line. Once you start working with cells, they have to be maintained at least every 2 to 3 days. There are only two of us currently working in my lab, so that means if I am away from the lab for an extended period of time I will have to freeze down aliquots of the cells for storage. This should be done with every cell-line you work with for the sake of continuity, amongst other reasons. Cell-lines age as you continue to work with them, and in time may begin to change in characteristics.

The process is slow but simple. Below is a brief description of how it’s done: Continue reading