Spanish startup BioTech Foods will be leading a new government-backed project that will see ten research institutions and seven organisations come together to make meat directly from animal cells. The aim of the project is to develop healthier and more sustainable alternative proteins, including research into cultured meat that could prevent colon cancer and high levels of cholesterol.
Called the “CULTUREDMEAT” project, researchers will be investigating meat produced directly from the cells of animals, a process billed as cruelty-free, far more sustainable than conventional animal agriculture, and potentially bring about a healthier alternative protein product.
It was submitted to a program under the Center for Industrial Technological Development (CDTI), where strategic business innovation initiatives are supported by the Spanish government, and granted with €3.7 million (US$4.49 million) in initial funding, with the total budget amounting to €5.2 million (US$6.31 million).
The project will be led by BioTech Foods, the Spanish startup behind cell-cultured meat Ethicameat, with BDI Biotech, Neoalgae, Argal, the Autonomous University of Madrid, Oviedo University, Barcelona Science Park, University of Seville and University of Granada among some of the other consortium partners.
More specifically, the research aims to develop protein, healthy fats and functional ingredients using cellular agriculture to create a final cultured meat consumer product like burgers or sausages that can help prevent colon cancer and dyslipidemia, a condition where there is an abnormally high concentration of cholesterol and lipids in the blood.
Both colon cancer and dyslipidemia has been associated with the consumption of red meat, with the former being the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer in Spain with over 25,000 new cases each year, making the project highly relevant to local public health.
“The project will work on healthy lipids that are incorporated in the preparation of the final consumer product,” said BioTech Foods in a press release. “Reducing consumer exposure to saturated fat could potentially prevent colon cancer and dyslipidemia.”
Previously, BioTech Foods made headlines for leading a research project called “Meat4All”, which was awarded a €2.7 million (US$3.16 million) grant from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 R&D funding programme. It represented the first-ever cell-based meat project to receive public funding from the bloc, a major indicator of the growing support from authorities to examine novel sustainable protein solutions.
Meat4All is also joined by a number of other consortium partners based across the E.U., including French biotech supplier Organotechnie, and will focus on undertaking research into consumer market acceptance and food safety testing with the goal of bringing these products to the European market.
Specific targets that the Meat4All research consortium has set include scaling up cultured meat production from kilograms to tonnes while maintaining the nutritional value in such large-scale quantities, developing novel ways to culture cells without animal serum, and using non-GMO animal cells. They will also be conducting taste trials to test the market with the aim of creating a competitive product.
So far, the only country that has approved the commercial sale of cultured meat is Singapore, where San Francisco food tech Eat Just was given the go ahead to sell its cultivated chicken bites.