Supervisor: Petra Hanga
Project Overview: There is an increased need for sustainable, protein rich food sources to support the rapidly growing population. There is a direct correlation between increasing per capita income and meat consumption. By 2025, an increase of 48 Mega tons in meat demand was predicted with 73% of this increase coming from developing countries. With animal agriculture currently occupying 70% of arable land, generating 14.5% of greenhouse emissions and consuming 27% of fresh water resources just for livestock feed, conventional animal agriculture (e.g. livestock meat) cannot sustain such growth in meat demand.
Alternative food technologies such as cultivated meat can provide a solution to this growing problem, while offering many advantages over livestock meat. It mimics animal meat, while being produced in a bioreactor under controlled conditions, rather than through slaughtering of animals. The production process can be closely controlled and modified to produce meat that is free from antibiotics, free from zoonotic bacteria and viruses and with a customisable nutritional profile (e.g. enriched in omega fatty acids, reduced cholesterol etc).
This project aims to investigate encapsulation of bovine adipose-derived stem cells (bASCs) in hydrogels as a tool to produce cultivated meat.
1) To identify suitable food grade hydrogels for cell encapsulation;
2) To perform cell encapsulation of bASCs in a consistent manner. This is particularly important, as it will provide a 3D environment for stem cell expansion and differentiation.
3) To assess cell quality (viability, potency).
Core Techniques: bASC culture; cell encapsulation in hydrogels; automated cell counting; metabolic analysis; phase contrast and fluorescent imaging; flow cytometry; immunofluorescence staining.