October 21, 2019


Roslin Institute explores producing more meat from pigs through genes studies


A research at the Roslin Institute (United Kingdom) is focusing on identifying genes linked with fat production and muscular development in pigs, with a view to producing leaner animals or more meat from fewer animals, the animal sciences research institute in Scotland announced on October 16.


The team aims to grow cells that can be used to produce muscle and fat in the laboratory. This will help to identify specific variants of genes in pigs that are linked with generating leaner or fatter meat.


Eventually, efforts would lead to creating the potential for such genes to be bred out, resulting in leaner pigs which produce more meat.


Thousands of genes are potentially involved in the production of fat and muscle, which means it is difficult to carry out this research with cells taken from live pigs, the Roslin Institute said.


As such, the team is carrying out work, in collaboration with an industry partner, to generate a laboratory model of pig muscle.


The institute's partner, Stemnovate, will provide expertise in stem cells and 3D tissue engineering. The company was funded by Innovate UK in support of advancing organ on silicon chip systems, which seek to simulate artificial organs for study in the lab.


Instead of periodically having to obtain muscle tissue from pigs, Roslin is looking to grow stem cells for long periods in culture, and use them whenever its researchers need to produce muscle in the lab, said Dr. Xavier Donadeu, the research's group leader.


"It will be an exciting project - the ability to grow muscle cells in the lab and engineer for production is highly valuable for the potential industrial applications," Dr. Ruchi Sharma, CEO of Stemnovate, commented.


- Roslin Institute