In the future your sexy black biker jacket may be bioprinted. The New York-based Modern Meadow was originally known for its work in producing bioprinted meat – meat that is cultured in a vat and not grown on a cow – but just raised a $10 million Series A to begin printing cultured leather, a biomaterial that can be used in clothing and other applications. The company has $12.5 million in private funding.
The effort, led by biologists by Francoise Marga and Karoly Jakab, will bring the leather to market in the next few years. They are also working on vat grown meat which they sampled at SXSW this year. The meat, produced in the form of “steak chips,” was pronounced as delicious by
drunken revelers staid and impartial members of a panel. “However, the first range of products to reach the market will be cultured leather and related biomaterials, not cultured meat,” said Sarah Sclarsic, Modern Meadow Business Director.
“We have had great progress in developing sustainable and slaughter-free meat: this is real cow meat, made without harm to cows or the environment,” she said.
The founders, Gabor and Andras Forgacs, originally worked on Organovo, a “tissue engineering” company. This is the pair’s first consumer-grade product.
Most fake leathers are made of petroleum products and don’t perform as well as real leather. Using real, vat-grown meat has allowed Modern Meadow to create a more sustainable, if strangely futuristic, form of meat and material. Don’t expect to bop down to the market in your vat-grown-leather cat suit and pick up some vat-grown kebabs any time soon, though. The technology is still in its infancy.
The inspiration for the company came when the original team began making living organs in the lab. “Our team realized that if these technologies are good enough to create viable, living tissues such as liver and skin that can function biologically, then we can also make simple tissues for applications outside of medicine,” said Sclarsic.
Perhaps, one day, we’ll all be able to eat a bioprinted liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.