Korean startup DaNAgreen 3D-scaffold enables cultured meat mass production

The future holds the grim reality of food shortage as the world population grows. Alternate ways to farming are already sort, and methods to develop cultured meat are being utilized. The world’s first cultured meat was approved as food in Singapore, licensed in December 2020 through Eat JUST’s chicken nuggets. American company ‘Just’ too sold chicken nuggets made from cultured meat recently. Cultured meat is meat made by culturing muscle cells of livestock. With the development of biotechnology, the era of meat production without slaughtering or raising livestock is now open.

Korean startup DaNAgreen has developed scaffolds that help scientists culture cells in 3D and utilize its service for cultured meat production.

Protein crosslinking technology to culture muscle cells

DaNAgreen has developed protein crosslinking technology to make scaffolds for culturing cells ex vivo. Its scaffolds are used to produce mini-livers and mini-hearts for drug toxicity tests. The scaffolds are now being used to culture muscle cells to make cultured meat. DaNAgreen’s prime product is ProtinetTM, an extracellular matrix (ECM)-like scaffold made of proteins using patented crosslinking technology. Protinet is made from a plant-derived protein mass and contains lots of pores where cells can live and grow.

ProtinetTM scaffolds can be easily manipulated in typical cell culture dishes, plates, and inserts in standardized procedures. ProtinetTM scaffolds are fabricated in a standard format of a 10 mm diameter disk, which suits around one million cells (maximum number of attachable cells may vary according to cell types). Customized size or shape of ProtinetTM scaffolds are also available.

Currently, the startup is focusing on cultured chicken and cow meat. CEO Kiwoo Kim explained in a media report, “It takes about two weeks for chicken and four weeks for beef to grow from stem cells to cultured meat.” In the process of producing cultured meat, stem cells from chickens and cattle are extracted and placed in an incubator (bioreactor) along with a culture medium and support (three-dimensional structure). This is a method in which the scaffold grows into cultured meat equipped with muscle and adipose tissue as cells divide through seeding.

Expanding to Singapore, USA

DaNAgreen Co., Ltd. is a Seoul-based startup founded in 2017 by Hyeon-Geun Ji, Kiwoo Kim, and Seungyeon Joo, who has vast experience in the field of biotechnology and medicine.

The startup claims its scaffolds to be the most cost-efficient in the market. As per a company estimate, one kg of cultivated meat requires 23,000 scaffolds that cost only $11.50, which will enable significant scaling-up of cultured meat production. Culture meat mass production is still in its nascent stage and requires much more cost-effective methods.

With investment in alternative meat-related companies on the rise and cultured meat consumption is expected to surge. DaNAgreen has set its aim to develop a line of cells, culture media, and a cultivated meat bioreactor. “Our goal is to come up with something that can add value to the lives of all living things on this earth, not just us humans but also laboratory or husbandry animals,” is the motto of DaNAgreen. Dana Green plans to expand its stride to the field of mini-organs and cell therapy products. DaNAgreen plans to enter the Singapore market in 2021 and in 2022, prepare for registration with the US FDA and the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety.

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