By Dr Hao Lu
When scientists started looking for ways to grow cells outside the body and to grow muscle cells as food, they needed a cell culture media similar to blood that could help the cell to survive. They found a solution with fetal bovine serum, also called FBS.
FBS allowed many scientists to further their research in the understanding of diseases, and even helped to develop cell lines for food production. However, as the name suggests, FBS is derived from a cow fetus’ blood, making it both cruel and unsustainable.
Despite more than 70 years of research, scientists were unable to fully replicate the function of FBS. But recently, pioneers in the cultivated cells industry have had technological breakthroughs allowing them to remove FBS from their process.
Opalia is one such company. A BIV portfolio company and recent graduate of our accelerator program in NY, they recently announced that they no longer require FBS for the cultivation of mammary cells.
Opalia’s own version of mammary cells grow and lactate inside a bioreactor, replicating the In Vivo environment of the cow udder. The company is now able to manufacture all of the functional components of traditional dairy without involving any animal in the process.
Removing FBS not only means that Opalia can produce cruelty-free milk, it also significantly reduces the cost of production, and could lower the regulatory hurdle for approval.