The global population is expected to reach 9 billion mark by 2050 which will cause an increase of 70% on the global demand for food. However, if the global trends of meat and animal products consumption continue at the current rate, the global mean temperature will rise by over 2C despite the emissions of non-agricultural sectors being drastically decreased. Therefore, a growing need exists to develop more efficient protein production options. During embryonic muscle development, myoblasts proliferate and undergo differentiation, a multistep process which requires cell cycle withdrawal, initiation of a muscle specific gene transcriptional program, differentiation into fusion competent myoblasts, and ultimately cell-to-cell fusion to form nascent multinucleated myotubes that mature to form contractile muscle fibers. We have identified a novel signaling cascade, that is easily controlled by a small molecule inhibitor, leading to faster and more robust in vitro muscle formation than can be achieved with the conventional differentiation medium. This occurs through the induction of synchronous differentiation and ultimately enhanced cell-to-cell fusion of the muscle progenitor cells. The discovery of a signaling cascade which enhances myoblast fusion draws parallels to the needs of the newly established and ever-growing field of cultured meat, which builds upon the techniques used for decades in the in vitro study of myogenesis. The cultured meat industry is actively seeking ways to increase production efficiency in order to reach price-parity with the current meat industry. Therefore, taking advantage of processes that can speed up and enhance efficiency of myoblast fusion would facilitate this achievement. The goals of the PoC project are to improve the maturity of our idea by bringing it to higher TRLs (Technology Readiness Levels), implement a pre-commercial prototype of the proposed product and explore its commercialization potential.
Fields of science
- HORIZON.1.1 - European Research Council (ERC) Main Programme