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How Science Is Creating a More Sustainable Future

One of science’s main objectives has always been the improvement of human life, so it should be of no surprise that sustainability has been a hot topic recently. From lab grown “meat” to ex-vivo disease models, new technologies have arisen that not only minimize our dependence on animals, but also make the drug discovery process more efficient. Continue reading to discover some of the latest advancements that are making life both in and out of the lab more sustainable.

Lab Grown “Meat”

There has been a large focus on replacing farming animals for human consumption over the last few years, as they are not only significant contributors to greenhouse gasses and responsible for the rise in multi-resistant microbes,1 but their consumption is also a major point of ethical concern and controversy. What could possibly solve this rising environmental issue? Well, it looks like lab grown “meat” might be the solution. The process behind creating this ‘cultured meat’ was actually inspired by previous research into regenerative medicine performed by Professor Mark Post of Maastricht University.2 Post, who had previously been working on repairing human heart tissue, cultured the world’s first burger in 2013.3

Test tube grown meat requires large numbers of muscle cells as well as fat (adipose cells) that need to be grown separately before being ‘reformed’ into what we consider meat.2 These cell expansions are no small feat, which is why organizations such as Applied StemCell have developed technologies to safely produce these cell numbers at scale.

Now you may be thinking, “What’s the catch?” As with any new scientific advancement, there are bound to be some advantages and disadvantages. For example, one of the major benefits of cultured meat is the possibility of improving the nutrient profile of the meat or even customizing the nutrient profile so that it fits an individual’s dietary needs.3 An environmental benefit is that cultivated meat requires less land since it more efficiently converts crops into meat.3 Alternatively, there are some negative environmental impacts that the cultured meat industry creates. There are concerns that “the energy used to make cultivated meat could release more greenhouse gasses than traditional farming”.4

Admittedly, this sustainable alternative to meat is a new frontier and still requires much more research into the possible environmental impacts. However, despite these concerns, it is a promising new technology that can unlock a whole new way of looking at nutrition.

Ex-vivo Disease Models

It is common practice for animal models to be used to test the effectiveness and safety of a new drug before it reaches humans. In recent years, there has been a significant focus in replacing, refining and reducing animal usage; however, regulatory agencies still require some animal data before approving a new drug for patients’ applications. Ex-vivo disease models can provide a viable solution to this dilemma and are beginning to be recognized as valid tools to replace and therefore reduce the use of live animals for research. Some ex-vivo models are especially interesting because they are 100% human, e.g. they are derived directly from patients, so they better replicate human responses.

Organizations such as Imagen Therapeutics have developed a proprietary in-vitro, drug-sensitivity test from the patient’s genetically unique cancer that helps oncologists select the right treatments, leading to improved outcomes for patients. It also allows scientists to accelerate their new drug discovery and development programs, leading to better treatments in the future.

Cellaria’s (cell) models represent a diversity of the disease that has been unattainable to date. It allows drug and cancer researchers to make better decisions about which populations of patients are more likely to respond effectively to drugs that are under investigation.

Cellesce has developed a novel bioprocess to manufacture high-quality, large-scale batches of organoids. Organoids are derived from biopsies and tissues sampled from patients or subjects (usually termed Patient-Derived Organoids, or PDOs). PDOs are self-organizing cell structures that mimic the tissue or organ from which they are derived – they are often termed ‘mini-organs’. PDOs provide an advanced and biologically relevant, in-vitro model for screening drugs earlier in drug discovery and their prediction of patient responses to those drugs, providing better data today and better drugs tomorrow.

Large Scale Cell Expansion

From an ethical standpoint, when we are trying to develop sustainable techniques, minimizing donations as a whole is a major scientific achievement. Not only do we minimize the number of single-use consumables used in every donation, but it also reduces the likelihood of potential complications that might require further treatment, as well as allowing for more consistent use of identical material within scientific protocols.

Ossium Health is a bone marrow bank, a first-of-its-kind solution for processing, banking and deploying bone marrow-derived cell therapies at an industrial scale. Similarly, RoosterBio utilizes their novel products and biomanufacturing strategies to create a scalable supply chain of high-quality human Mesenchymal Stem Cells (hMSCs).

Large scale production of human hMSCs are the baseline requirement that will fuel hundreds of next-generation cell-based therapies, from bone marrow transplant to curing genetic disorders.

Science is a field that never remains stagnant, rather it is constantly evolving, improving research methods and developing new technologies to better serve our world. Scientific breakthroughs, like the ones mentioned above, unlock great potential for creating a more sustainable world. Though there is much more work to be done to better understand and refine these new practices, they provide a glimpse of hope into the future.

  1. Gelalcha, B. D. , Agga, G. E. , & Dego, O. K. [2021]. Antimicrobial Usage for the Management of Mastitis in the USA: Impacts on Antimicrobial Resistance and Potential Alternative Approaches [online]. Mastitis in Dairy Cattle, Sheep and Goats. Available from: [Accessed 18 October 2022].
  2. M.J. Post [online] Maastricht University. Available from: [Accessed 18 October 2022].
  3. Fleming, Amy. [2022]. What is lab-grown meat? How it’s made, environmental impact and more [online]. Science Focus. Available from: [Accessed 18 October 2022].
  4. Lynch, J and Pierrehumbert, R [2019] Climate Impacts of Cultured Meat and Beef Cattle [online]. Front. Sustain. Food Syst. Available from: [Accessed 18 October 2022].