15 October 2020

Hybrid of a cow with a carrot

Beef from a test tube was made better than the real one

Alexandra Medvedev, Indicator

American researchers have created cow muscle cells that produce provitamin beta-carotene and other nutrients. So they showed that products grown with the help of genetic engineering can be more nutritious and safe compared to conventional meat. The publication was published on the pages of the journal Metabolic Engineering (Stout et al., Engineering carotenoid production in mammalian cells for nutritionally enhanced cell-cultured foods).

Tufts University geneticists have created muscle cells of cows that produce nutrients not peculiar to these animals. Among them was beta-carotene — provitamin A, which is found in carrots and tomatoes. To do this, scientists have added sequences of bacteria that can produce carotenoids to the genetic code of cells.

"Cows don't have the genes responsible for beta-carotene synthesis," said Andrew Stout, lead author of the study. "We have engineered the muscle cells of cows to produce this and other phytonutrients, which allows us to transfer these nutrients directly to the cultured meat product in a way that is not possible with the use of transgenic animals and traditional meat production."

Thus, the authors of the work proposed a new principle of using genetic engineering to create food. Instead of simply repeating the usual store-bought beef, meat products grown on cell cultures may contain various vitamins, additives and bioactive substances. In addition, the level of lipid oxidation was reduced in the cells that produced beta-carotene. It is believed that because of this process, eating red and processed meat can increase the risk of cancer, such as colorectal cancer. Increasing the nutritional value and safety of cultured meat products can give them the necessary advantage to compete with conventional meat on the market.

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