We can 3D-print all kinds of things these days and that list now includes wagyu steak.
Researchers at Osaka University have used 3D-bioprinting to create cultured meat that matches the texture of wagyu beef.
How do you print a wagyu steak?
According to a press release, scientists were able to use stem cells isolated from wagyu cows to 3D-print a new meat alternative. The end result was a steak that contained muscle, fat and blood vessels that were arranged to match a wagyu cut.
This technology goes beyond the 3D-printed steaks we’ve seen before as wagyu cows are renowned for their high intramuscular fat content, aka marbling, which gives these portions a rich and distinct texture.
“Using the histological structure of Wagyu beef as a blueprint, we have developed a 3D-printing method that can produce tailor-made complex structures, like muscle fibres, fat, and blood vessels,” lead author Dong-Hee Kang said.
To do this researchers used two types of stem cells — bovine satellite cells and adipose-derived cells. In laboratory conditions, scientists were able to then coax these multipotent cells into every type of cell required to create cultured meat.
Bioprinting created the different individual fibres including muscle, fat and blood vessels, which were arranged according to the histological structure of wagyu meat.
This ended up creating a wagyu steak that looked pretty close to the real thing. No word on taste though.
Is it a sustainable replacement for beef?
The achievement was published as a paper in the journal Nature Communications. The researchers said this technology could eventually lead to a more sustainable alternative to traditional beef.
Further advancements in this technology could also allow the reproduction of more complex meat structures which would potentially allow customers to order cultured meat with their desired amount of fat content on demand.
There’s no word on when or if this cultured meat will be available for public consumption, but this isn’t the only instance of 3D-printed meat being a success.
As the beef industry is a huge contributor towards global warming, advancements in 3D-bioprinting technology could be one way of creating a viable and sustainable future that doesn’t involve giving up meat.