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  • Writer's picturePhoebe Fraser

Extracellular launches cell banks to support cell-based meat research

Extracellular, a UK-based contract development and manufacturing organisation dedicated to cell-based meat and seafood, has developed low-cost, licence-free cell banks for use by the cell-based meat sector.

The cell banks are stocked with primary cells relevant to cell-based meat research, which have been created with funding from InnovateUK – part of the UK Government’s Department of Research and Innovation – and developed in collaboration with biotech company Multus.

According to Extracellular, “currently, animal primary cells relevant for cell-based meat research are expensive, often of poor quality, and come with limited information regarding their performance or provenance. Their use is also limited by licensing or commercial agreements that can impede innovative technologies and approaches in this nascent field.”

Extracellular’s cell bank initiative aims to support early-stage companies and researchers in the sector by providing high-quality animal primary cells that are suitable for cell-based research and development. The company says that its cell banks are “up to 90% cheaper than other cell line providers and free from licensing restrictions”.

The cell banks offer cells isolated from the fat, muscle and bone marrow tissues of cows, pigs and lamb. Each batch will include information on the cells’ provenance, from the age, breed and sex of the animal, to the passage numbers and expected population doubling times. Extracellular says that more animal species and tissue types will be available in the future.

Dr Will Milligan, co-founder and CEO of Extracellular, said: "Primary cells are the building

blocks for cultivated meat research, but good cells are too hard to access for many researchers in industry and academia. By bringing our cell banks to market, we hope more researchers can develop new cell lines, media formulations, processes and technologies, without restrictions from licensing or commercial agreements.”

The project also involves extensive collaboration with Multus, which develops low-cost growth media formulations and ingredients for the cell-based meat industry. Multus provided protocols and materials to de-risk the cell bank project, along with independent quality control for cell identification, cryopreservation (a process that preserves cells by cooling the samples to very low temperatures) and growth characterisation.

Seren Kell, senior science and technology manager at the Good Food Institute Europe, said: "Increasing the availability of cell lines will be crucial to help researchers and companies develop the innovations needed to bring down the cost of this more sustainable way of making meat. The creation of a licence-free cell bank is exactly the kind of collaborative approach needed to help the UK accelerate this growing field, while the involvement of farmers demonstrates how agricultural communities can benefit from a transition to sustainable proteins."

As part of the cell bank initiative, Extracellular plans to work with other organisations to provide an open and collaborative platform focused on facilitating effective data sharing of cell-based meat research.

Dr Kiren Baines, co-founder and CSO of Extracellular, said: "We wanted to create cell banks that came with an extensive data pack, and that’s what we’ve done. We’ve characterised our cell banks to make sure researchers understand the quality of the cells we’re providing. Our banks also allow researchers to compare species, tissue types, and even tissues from the same animal to understand the details behind delivering a fantastic cultivated meat product."

Extracellular’s cell banks will be available from July 2023.


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