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A study published in the journal ACS Biomaterials & Engineering has investigated the potential of non-allergenic wheat protein glutenin to act as a scaffold in the production of cell-based meat.  


For the study, researchers isolated glutenin from gluten, before forming it into flat and ridge-patterned films. Mouse cells that develop into skeletal muscle were then placed on the films and incubated for two weeks. Glutenin is considered to be generally safe for celiacs and those with gluten sensitivity, despite being a wheat protein. 


The study reports that cells successfully grew and proliferated on both films and that by the second week, they had formed long parallel bundles replicating the fibre structure of muscles. While the performance was not as good as gelatin-based films, the researchers said it was considered sufficient and that further work could improve how cells attach to the plant-based films. 


Another test was carried out with mouse cells that produce fat tissues – it found that these also proliferated and differentiated, producing visible lipid and collagen deposits. The researchers concluded that glutenin films can support the growth of both muscle and fat layers, with the potential for these to be stacked to form cell-based meat.  


Wheat protein could act as scaffold for cell-based meat, study finds

Phoebe Fraser

2 February 2024

Wheat protein could act as scaffold for cell-based meat, study finds

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