Stem cell studies pave way to leaner livestock
A research partnership with industry is using pig stem cells to research muscle and fat development, towards producing leaner meats.
Research at the Roslin Institute in the U.K. is focusing on identifying genes linked with fat production and muscular development in pigs, with a view to producing leaner animals or more meat from fewer animals.
According to the announcement, the team aims to grow cells that can be used to produce muscle and fat in the laboratory, which will help identify specific variants of genes in pigs that are linked with generating leaner or fatter meat.
Eventually, this would create the potential for such genes to be bred out, leading to leaner pigs that produce more meat, the institute said.
Novel cell studies
Thousands of genes are potentially involved in the production of fat and muscle, which means it is difficult to carry out this research with cells taken from live pigs, Roslin explained.
Instead, the research team is carrying out work, in collaboration with an industry partner, to generate a laboratory model of pig muscle.
Their partner, Stemnovate, will provide expertise in stem cells and three-dimensional tissue engineering. The company was funded by Innovate U.K. in support of advancing organ on silicon chip systems, which seek to simulate artificial organs for study in the lab.
"Instead of periodically having to obtain muscle tissue from pigs, we want to be able to grow stem cells for long periods in culture and use them whenever we need to produce muscle in the lab," said Roslin group leader Dr. Xavier Donadeu.
Stemnovate chief executive officer Dr. Ruchi Sharma added, "It will be an exciting project -- the ability to grow muscle cells in the lab and engineer for production is highly valuable for the potential industrial applications."
The project has recruited a doctoral student who will work at the Roslin Institute and undertake a three-month work placement with Stemnovate in Cambridge, U.K.
The studentship is funded by the East of Scotland Bioscience (EastBio) doctoral training partnership, supported by the U.K.'s Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council.
The approach could inform ways to improve food quality or even develop meat without animals, Roslin said.
Source: The Roslin Institute, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.
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