Consistent Cell Count & Viability for Development & Manufacturing of Clean Meat
Cultured meat, also referred to as clean, in vitro or cultivated meat, is a product of cellular agriculture produced through cell culture and tissue engineering techniques. Whereas traditional meat production involves rearing animals for the harvesting of muscle and fat tissues, cultured meat starts by isolating the animal’s muscle or fat stem cells.
Why Cultured Meat?
Traditional meat production has a significant environmental cost. The United Nations has reported that the livestock sector generates 14.5% of all greenhouse gas emissions, requiring 30% of the Earth’s land space, and 8% of the global supply of freshwater1.
Animals require up to 97% of their caloric intake to maintain their bodies and produce non-edible tissues, making animal-derived food products less efficient than their cultured meat counterparts1.
Viral outbreaks originating from factory farm conditions, such as swine and avian flu2 have been documented. These are a potential risk to human health and thus important to monitor and avoid when possible. Relying on antibiotic use contributes to the evolution of antibiotic resistance. Furthermore, most ethical concerns surrounding animal welfare are avoided when producing cultured meat.
What are the Challenges in Cultured Meat Production?
Though gaining popularity, the ‘clean meat’ industry is not without challenges, including the need to make processes more economically viable and to manufacture products with a texture closer to animal tissue.
Scaling up operations is a major hurdle that cultured meat manufacturers also experience. Some of the efficiency optimizations will require selecting and developing cell lines that grow at a fast rate and require less cell culture medium, while being able to grow well in serum-free culture medium.
The culture scaffolding also requires optimization to provide the most efficient nutrient/media flow and cell stacking possible.
The Importance of Cell Counting in Cultured Meat Production
Early-stage research and development requires the use of small-scale culture vessels such as flasks and plates. In these vessels, cells will need to be counted regularly and reliably to optimize large scale expansion.
Scaling-up using bioreactors, scaffolds and microcarriers requires accurate, consistent, and reliable cell count and viability measurements at initial seeding densities, throughout the expansion process, and for the final product. Cell counting of aggregated cells or cells that have been grown on microcarriers can be challenging and time-consuming due to the need to dissociate the samples prior to measurement.
Whether your cells grow in a bioreactor or in a culture flask, the NucleoCounter® NC-202™ automated cell counter has specific assays designed for counting your exact sample type. The instrument’s patented consumable, the Via2-Cassette™, has a built-in pipette and contains the dyes needed to stain for total cell count and viability.
For small scale culture such as in flasks and plates, the Via2-Cassette™ is used in one step with the ‘Viability and Cell Count Assay’ to obtain a reliable and accurate cell count in less than 30 seconds.
Counting Cells on Microcarriers
The NC-202™ and Via2-Cassette™ can also count cells grown on microcarriers without the need to detach cells through lengthy scraping and/or digestion methods. Instead, with the addition of a lysis buffer you can obtain a reliable and accurate total cell count and viability measurement from your sample in only a few minutes. Learn more.
(1) T Ben-Ayre: “Tissue Engineering for Clean Meat Production”. Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems, 2019
(2) M Greger: “The Human/Animal Interface: Emergence and Resurgence of Zoonotic Infectious Diseases”. Critical Reviews in Microbiology, 2008; 33:4, 243-299, DOI: 10.1080/10408410701647594