UK consumers could be one step closer to one day trying cultured meat, following biotech company BSF Enterprise’s listing on the London Stock Exchange (LSE).
BSF, which recently executed a successful reverse takeover of Newcastle-based biotech cell cultivation start-up 3D Bio-Tissues Limited (3DBT), listed on the exchange at 8am this morning (17.05.2022), following a placing which raised £1.75m at a price of 7.37p per share.
Having raised the funds to acquire 3DBT and now having a position on the LSE, BSF aims to shake-up the UK’s relationship with cultured products – particularly in the fields of meat, leather, and skincare.
Cell-based, cultured meat is a hot topic in the food industry right now as the search for sustainable and environmentally-friendly protein sources continues. The Dutch government has earmarked millions for cell-based agriculture research, while Israeli companies like Aleph Farms, Future Meat and SuperMeat have received substantial investment to develop cultured meat.
The Israel Innovation Authority has also just established a consortium dedicated to cultured meat, with plans to support further growth and research with a $20.4M grant.
Crucially, though some cell culture projects and start-ups have received funding in the UK, actual products have yet to hit consumers. This is largely because cell-based meat has yet to be approved for consumption in Britain and Europe.
BSF Executive Director Geoff Baker has promised to address this, by producing the UK’s first cut of cultured meat within the next 12 months. “[This] is expected to open doors to potential customers in the food supply chain,” he said.
BSF has confirmed to Food Matters Live that the first meat the partnership is focussing on is pork. The company also said it is speaking with companies and wholesalers about licensing the technology in the future.
Cultured meat on shelves and menus is still some way off. The outcome is hugely dependent on the companies BSF will work with obtaining novel food regulatory approval from the European Commission.
BSF’s promised cut of cultured meat would be a massive leap forward for the UK, however, and at a time when the search for alternative proteins is a focus for many.
3DBT already has existing patent-protected IP which will be used in this mission. One is its serum-free media, dubbed City-Mix, an animal-free feed that can be used to culture skin, muscle, and fat cells.
Another is in the field of tissue templating. Its innovation can be used as a platform on which to grow different tissues with natural structure and function. Previously, it used this technology to produce human corneas, but it can also be used to produce cultured meat and leather.
“Demand for high-quality alternative protein sources is high, driven by the critical need to reduce global greenhouse gases, for which livestock farming is responsible for a staggering 24%,” said Baker. “Our technology has the potential to improve the lives of millions of people around the world.”
3DBT has an extensive history in cell-based innovation. In 2018, the company became the first in the world to develop lab-grown human corneas – a hugely important scientific advance given that 12.7 million people worldwide are currently awaiting corneal transplants.
Outside of meat, the partnership will also embark on work within the skincare and animal-free leather industry– for which 3DBT’s IPs are also useful.
The company’s trademarked Lipopeptide Etsyl actively increases collagen production in human skin cells and can be used as an ingredient in the cosmetic industry. Meanwhile the aforementioned growth medium City-Mix can be used to grow leather too.