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‘Invitro meat better than livestock product’

Last Updated : 19 Jul 2011 06:59:53 AM IST

CHENNAI: Scientists are working on invitro meat and milk production and genetically engineered cattle, which carry twice the number of skeletal muscles and have increased proficiency to convert feed into lean muscle, according to Dr R Prabhakaran, vice-chancellor of Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University.

Speaking on the ‘Frontiers of Stem Cell and Biotechnology in Human and Veterinary Medicine’ here on Monday, Prabhakaran said invitro meat production is becoming increasingly justifiable in the light of negative effects of livestock production.

“Currently, meat production methods are the major source of pollution as it contributes between 15 to 24 per cent of total greenhouse gas emission. In terms of conversion, one kg of poultry, pork and beef requires two, four and seven kilograms of grains respectively. In future, satisfying the demand for meat will be a challenge even if we maximise the use of agricultural resources,” he said.

Tissue engineering offers the possibilities of culturing a variety of meat, primary of skeletal muscle origin, which involves culturing of muscle like tissues therefore bypassing animal husbandry and slaughter. The cultured meat can control the fat content whereby nutritional diseases like cardiovascular and diabetes and those diseases with over-consumption of aninmal fat can be avoided.

Even one can taste the meat of captive, rare or endangered animals through this technology, Dr Prabhakaran said.

The technology involves the use of cells, scaffolds, culture medium and bio-reactors. Embryonic myoblasts are adult skeletal muscle satellite cells that are proliferated and attached to scaffold such as collagen mesh work or microcarrier beads and then perfused with a culture medium in a rotating bio-reactor. The major stumbling block with commercialisation of in vitro culture meat are cost effectiveness and consumer acceptance.

He said scientists are also working on augmenting bioreactors in milk. Transgenic technology offers the opportunity by generating animals that produce milk with desired components suitable for specific diseases. Recently, mammary gland ephitelial cells have been identified and invitro culture and characterisation has been done using collagen as extramascular matrix. This suggests that in future, in vitro biosynthesis of milk with desired components can be possible.

Dr S Rangaswami, vice-chancellor of Sri Ramachandra University, said his university is currently working on a research on using mechanical force to expand the body cells. Dr Samuel J K Abraham, Director, NCRM Chennai, and Dr Siba K Samal, associate dean of Virginia — Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Maryland College Park, US,  also spoke on the occasion.

- Courtesy New Indian Express, 20th July 2011 issue.
*"Nichi" stands for Japan and "In" stands for India. This institute started on an Indo-Japan collaboration now has spreaded further with global alliances
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