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29.06.2023 | Tech and Business News

Cultivating Cells Rather Than Killing Animals

BLUU cell-based fish meat, grown from real fish cells in the lab.

Vegetarians take note: No fish died to make these crispy fish balls – © Bluu GmbH / Wim Jansen

‘Cultivated fish’ don’t go to the opera. The term refers to lab-grown fish meat, originally based on real cells from living animals, though the cell lines are then combined with natural nutrients in fermenting machines that produce the ideal conditions for the cells to multiply. Analogous to bread dough, out comes a cell mass that can be turned into crispy fish balls, salmon sashimi, or fish fingers. In fact, the process works for fish or any meats, though fish has several advantages because the cell structure is simpler than mammalian meat. Leading the way in this new technology is Berlin company BLUU, who are quick to point out that their process does not involve genetically modified organisms. No animals were harmed during the making of this trout filet.

Their key technical innovation is in managing to keep the cell line stable, or “immortal”, so that these cells can be reproduced almost indefinitely without a fresh fish having to be biopsied. Founded in 2020, the company has just netted €16M in series A funding, as eu-startups reports. “Together with our strong, international investor base, we can start the next stage of development and bring our first products to market,” says BLUU co-founder and CEO Dr. Sebastian Rakers. As a marine and cell biologist, he is uniquely qualified. He also has the support of his erstwhile employer Fraunhofer. Rakers is aware that BLUU will need the funding not only for more research but to ensure the regulatory approval of its first products.

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