Laboratory Leather: Company to Mass Produce Tissue-Engineered Animal Hides within Five Years

September 18th, 2012 | by Michael Keller

 
Things have been very hush-hush over at Modern Meadow since it was disclosed in August that the company had received funding from PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel’s foundation to 3-D bioprint meat and leather.

But in an exclusive interview with Txchnologist, company cofounder and CEO Andras Forgacs has broken the silence and revealed some details about Modern Meadow’s goals. Their first project? In vitro leather production.

“Our emphasis first is not on meat, it’s on leather,” Forgacs says. “The main reason is that, technically, skin is a simpler structure than meat, making it easier to produce.”

The company also needs to acclimate potential customers to the idea of tissue-engineering products. It turns out that, initially at least, many consumers might not want to eat a modern technological marvel. “Anecdotally, we’ve found that around 40 percent of people would be willing to try cultured meat,” he says. “There’s much less controversy around using leather that doesn’t involve killing animals.”

They will work on growing meat in the lab while perfecting their leather process, but Forgacs expects the regulatory approval process could keep Modern Meadow burgers off the dinner plate for another 10 years.  A full-scale leather production facility, on the other hand, could be up and running in five years.

Read more: txchnologist.com: Laboratory Leather: Company to Mass Produce Tissue-Engineered Animal Hides within Five Years

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