London: The Dutch team that crafted the world's first lab-grown meat burger, which cost 215,000 pounds to make, says a cheaper version of the product could hit the market in five years.
Researchers are setting up a company to look at making the burger tastier and cheaper. Peter Verstrate, head of the new firm, said the product, which was first created by Professor Mark Post at Maastricht University in The Netherlands, would help serve the growing demand for meat.
The team had a prototype cooked and eaten in London two years ago that cost 215,000 pounds to make. "I feel extremely excited about the prospect of this product being on sale. And I am confident that when it is offered as an alternative to meat that increasing numbers of people will find it hard not to buy our product for ethical reasons," Verstrate told 'BBC News'. "I am confident that we will have it on the market in five years," he said.
Verstrate said the product would be on the supermarket shelves once a demand had been established and the price comes down. The burger is made from stem-cells: the templates from which specialised tissue such as nerve or skin cells develop. Researchers are finding ways to keep up with the growing demand for meat.
Traditional farming methods will need to use more energy, water and land - and the consequent increase in greenhouse gas emission will be substantial. Stem cells are extracted from cow muscle tissue. These are cultured with nutrients and growth-promoting chemicals in the laboratory to help them develop and multiply.
Three weeks later, there are more than a million stem cells, which are put into smaller dishes where they coalesce into small strips of muscle about a centimetre long and a few millimetres thick. The strips are then layered together, coloured and mixed with fat.