Scientists from Osaka University in Japan have unveiled the world’s first 3D-printed Wagyu beef, complete with marbling, using stem cells isolated from Japanese cattle. This meat alternative isn’t just for show, as it contains muscle, fat as well as blood vessels that are all arranged to mimic traditional steaks. What sets Wagyu beef apart from standard beef is its high intramuscular fat content, which causes marbling that enhances its flavors and gives it texture. Read more for a short video and a picture of the actual printed beef.
The team used the histological structure of Wagyu beef as a blueprint, and then custom developed a 3D-printing method capable of producing tailor-made complex structures, like muscle fibers, fat, and blood vessels. They started with two types of stem cells, called bovine satellite cells and adipose-derived stem cells, which under the right laboratory conditions, can be coaxed to differentiate into every type of cell needed to manufacture the cultured meat. These fibers were then arranged in 3D to replicate the structure of real Wagyu meat, which was then sliced perpendicularly.
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By improving this technology, it will be possible to not only reproduce complex meat structures, such as the beautiful sashi of Wagyu beef, but to also make subtle adjustments to the fat and muscle components,” said Michiya Matsusaki, senior author of the study.