From Mush to Meat: Scaffolding to Structure Cultured Meat Products

  1. Stem Cells (cells which have the potential to become any type of specialized cell) are extracted from the animal.
  2. They are immersed in a culture medium — basically a large power smoothie — which gives the cells all the essential nutrients, carbohydrates, proteins and fats they need to grow and multiply.
  3. They are put in a bioreactor which exercises and introduces the cells to growth factors and encourages them to differentiate into many different kinds of specialized cells.

Decellularized Plant Tissue

Decellularized plant tissue (also known as cellulose) is the most abundant polymer in nature, and is renewable making it ideal for cellular agriculture. It’s created by

  1. Obtaining a sample of plant tissue
  2. Coating it in surfactant: this create pores in the tissue and “decellularizes” it
  3. Cross Linking: treating the cells with a reagent which modifies the cell membrane and introduces new mechanical properties.
  4. Vascularization: adding more blood vessels so that nutrients can more effectively travel through it to the animal cells and overcome diffusion limits
  5. Coating it in protein: cellulose does not naturally exhibit many of the biochemical cues which we need to grow mammalian cells. Depending on the cells that are being grown, the tissue may be coated in a certain type of protein to make up for these cues.
Decellularized Plant Tissue


Chitin is found in the exoskeletons of insects, the shells of many sea invertebrates and fish as well as in fungi. Through a process called alkaline deacetylation, chitin is converted into chitosan. The extremity of this process determines many of the biochemical cues the chitosan will have.

Chitosan Scaffold

Recombinant Collagen

Recombinant collagen is collagen after it’s put through the recombinant process — basically generating collagen building blocks which can be assembled to create more complicated structures.

Silk Fibroin

Alright, so the electrospun 3-dimensional silk fibroin nanofibrous scaffold — a bit of a mouthful.

Silk Fibroin
  1. Silkworm cocoons are boiled to make pure silk fibroin (SF)
  2. The solution is “lyophilized” which gives it a spongy texture
  3. It is put on a spinneret and spun under a DC current
  4. It is immersed in a methyl bath to be sterilized
  5. It is frozen and cut into small 2x2x2 cubes which are then sterilized even more

So, why not skip the scaffold entirely?

Well, we can with 3D printing.



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Avery Parkinson

Avery Parkinson

Activator at The Knowledge Society | A Sandwich or Two Founder