Spinach eyed as scaffold material for lab-grown beef


In Massachusetts, researchers at Boston College are considering spinach as an edible scaffolding material to produce lab-grown more cost effectively. 

After paring the leaves down to just its veins, the researchers were able to grow bovine animal protein along the spinach’s vascular network. The cells were viable for two weeks and differentiated into muscle.

“Cellular agriculture has the potential to produce meat that replicates the structure of traditionally grown meat while minimizing the land and water requirements,” says Glenn Gaudette, lead author, and inaugural chair of Boston College’s new Engineering Department. “We demonstrated that decellularizing spinach leaves can be used as an edible scaffold to grow bovine muscle cells as they develop into meat.”

Gaudette adds that muscle cells are “anchorage dependent, meaning they need to grab on to something in order to grow. In the lab, we can use plastic tissue culture plates, but plastic is not edible.”

The work is described in a recent issue of Food BioScience.