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Flavour-centric Innovation for Cultivated Meat: Bridging the Sensory Gap in Cellular Agriculture

Dr Tassos Koidis, Queen's University Belfast; Prof Georgios Leontidis, University of Aberdeen; Multus Biotechnology


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Research Aims

The modern practices of industrial farming have faced scrutiny due to their adverse effects on health and the environment. As the global population rapidly increases, the quest for sustainable and nutritious alternatives to traditional animal products becomes crucial. Cellular agriculture, which involves growing animal cells in a controlled environment to produce food, offers a promising solution. Recent advancements in cellular agriculture have led to the development of cultivated meat, which closely resembles conventional meat at the cellular level. This breakthrough provides an opportunity to overcome sensory limitations often associated with plant-based meat alternatives. However, the success of cultivated meat in the market hinges on replicating the sensory experiences of traditional meat. Previously, the growth of cellular products relied on Foetal Bovine Serum, derived from cow fetus blood. Ethical concerns and legislative changes have prompted the adoption of serum-free alternatives.  In fact, the growth medium, analogous to animal feed in conventional farming, significantly influences the sensory quality of the end product. This project aims to transform cellular agriculture by prioritizing flavour-centric production while maintaining viable manufacturing volumes. 

The methodology involves analysing extensive industrial data on growth media formulations for various cell lines (bovine, porcine, mouse myoblasts, adipocytes). By fusing this data with cell growth and omics chemical information (e.g., metabolomics and lipidomics data using mass spectrometry) paired with modern AI-enabled prediction systems, the project aims to enhance flavour outcomes in cultivated meat. 

The project represents an ideal opportunity for the PhD student to develop inter-disciplinary technical skills in advanced mutli-omics analysis, molecular biology with emphasis in cell culture techniques and AL/ML training and prediction systems. The student will receive tailored training in the above methodologies by experienced academics and PDRAs and will interact with researchers across the three research groups involved. A 2-month placement with Multus Biotechnology in London is also a strong option.  

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