In a world first, scientists at Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP)'s School of Applied Science (SAS) have successfully developed cell lines grown on a plant-based serum for high value fish species that are unable to be farmed commercially.
The scientists have worked on various food fish species, but "have had the most success" with unagi in particular.
First in the world to use an ethical plant-based medium
To create cell lines, cells are first taken from a small tissue sample of the subject, which in this case is the eel.
These cells form the building blocks of the cultivated meat as they grow and multiply continuously in lab conditions, forming cell lines which multiply to become eel fish cakes.
The cell lines are able to multiply and grow indefinitely, and they require less time, spanning weeks to months to become edible food in comparison to the normal life cycle of seafood.
The cell lines developed by NYP are the world's first to grow on a plant-based medium, which is seen as more ethical compared to the commonly used fetal bovine serum (FBS).
FBS is the liquid component that remains after blood drawn from a cattle fetus coagulates.
It is used extensively in research as a supplement to growth mediums in cell culture applications, without the need for additional enrichment.
The use of FBS is considered contentious as it is harvested from bovine fetuses taken from pregnant cows during slaughter in the meat-packing industry.
It is usually harvested without any form of anaesthesia.
"The practice of harvesting fetal blood is inhumane as the fetuses are likely exposed to pain and discomfort from the procedure," one journal article states.
According to NYP's press release, the development of unagi and food fish cell lines on a plant-based growth medium has led to remarkable cost savings, and a more sustainable practice of growing the fish cells, especially at a larger sc...