2023 signified several major news updates in the cell-based food sector. Below are the top five most popular stories from The Cell Base.
The Cultivated B’s industrial-grade bioreactor signals commercial viability for cellular agriculture
In July, Germany-based biotech The Cultivated B (TCB) announced the availability of its AUXO V industrial-grade bioreactor and the start of rapid-delivery manufacturing at its plant in Burlington, Ontario, Canada.
TCB intends to bridge the barrier to industry growth with bioreactor delivery times of only “a few weeks,” – compared to delivery times from other vendors that can be as much as two years – as well as novel, easy-to-use designs that make equipment operator training and skills transfer efficient.
TCB’s AUXO V bioreactors have been engineered by industrial designers to make them easy to use by non-experts. Using a human-machine interface and programmable logic controller system from Siemens, production personnel can be trained to use the bioreactor control system in days. AUXO V bioreactors are made of high-grade stainless steel, which makes them sterilisable and reusable.
According to TCB, the “AUXO V multi-use bioreactor vessels are cost-effective, flexible and customisable”. They are available in a wide range of sizes from lab scale to industrial scale – up to 25,000 litres – and are equipped with multiple sensors and impellers for different organisms, such as animal cells, bacteria or yeast.
Synonym Bio launches techno-economic analysis calculator Scaler
New York-based financing and development platform for biomanufacturing facilities, Synonym Bio, announced the launch of Scaler in July.
Scaler is a “first-of-its-kind” fully interactive, free online tool enabling synthetic biology companies to project their costs of production and operations at a commercial scale.
Synonym says that Scaler’s straightforward dynamic interface allows any company that is developing a bioproduct through fermentation to overcome the challenge of building and operating profitably at a commercial scale.
By inputting a few production variables, the technology works to instantly provide users with a customised techno-economic analysis with insights into projecting costs to build and operate a facility at scale, identifying a bioproduct’s biggest profitability drivers and understanding levers of commercial adoption.
UK to fast-track approval of cell-based meat with Israel deal
October saw the UK government unveil plans that it is working to fast-track regulatory approval for cell-based meat to boost food security and sustainability.
Ministers and regulators have been working to accelerate the approval of the novel food to ease the cost of living and provide more sustainable sources of meat as the global population grows.
Currently, no cell-based meat is authorised for sale in the UK. However, it has been reported that the UK government is poised to sign a bilateral agreement to boost collaboration on cell-based meat with Israel, a country at the forefront of the movement.
The Food Standards Agency is also said to be considering future changes to the approval process of cell-based meat to remove unnecessary burdens on businesses.
Re:meat announces plans to expand cell-based beef production
In July, Swedish cell-based meat company Re:meat introduced plans to construct Scandinavia’s “first-ever” cell-based beef plant and unveiled the country's first prototype – a Swedish meatball.
The initial pilot plant will hold a capacity of 30 tonnes per year, with the company anticipating that over the next five years, Re:meat's commercial factories will be able to produce over 10,000 tonnes of cell-based beef annually.
Re:meat aims to significantly reduce production costs by replacing the majority of its media nutrients with hydrolysates sourced from low-cost feedstock and algae. It says it has developed a foetal bovine serum alternative that will allow it to direct its resources toward increasing production and to launch its large-scale production pilot facility next year.
BioBetter opens food-grade pilot facility in northern Israel
In September, BioBetter opened a food-grade pilot facility in northern Israel. BioBetter has pioneered a unique protein manufacturing platform for producing growth factors (GFs) that uses tobacco plants as self-sustained, animal-free bioreactors.
By turning tobacco plants into “natural bioreactors,” the start-up says it could bring the cost of GFs for cell-based meat down from the normal range of $50,000-$1 million per gram to just $1 per gram.
The process – that uses only water, CO2 and sunlight – can produce various bovine GFs, including FGF2, transferrin and insulin. The company’s newly established plant has the capacity to process 100kg of tobacco plant-derived GFs daily with several thousand square metres of bovine-insulin and FGF2-expressing tobacco plants already thriving in northern Israel.
BioBetter’s chief R&D officer, Yonatan Eran explained how “tobacco grows on every continent besides Antarctica” and that “tobacco plants can reach 2.5 metres tall in less than three months.”
Co-founder Dana Yarden added: “We can grow tobacco four times per year, with a high yield, and when you cultivate the crop, it grows back. Nothing goes to waste. We remove the nicotine, which can be used as a natural pesticide, and the remaining material can be used as animal feed or even used within construction.”