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Scientists grow fish flesh in vat of liquid


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Scientists grow fish flesh in vat of liquid

Scientists have made chunks of flesh grow bigger in a vat of nutrient-rich liquid, raising the prospect of producing meat in industrial quantities from the muscle cells of animals or fish.

Researchers in the United States found that pieces of fish immersed in liquid extracted from the blood of unborn calves grew by 14 per cent in a week.

Morris Benjaminson, head of the team at Touro College in New York that carried out the research, said: "This could save you having to slaughter animals for food."

The experiment, reported in New Scientist, was part of an attempt to make a simple source of nutritious food for space travellers.

On long-distance missions, for example to Mars, astronauts could quickly tire of freeze-dried or squeezy tubes of food, so the researchers wanted to find a way of producing fresh food in-flight.

Last year German researchers designed an artificial eco- system to provide a continuous supply of fresh fish on a spacecraft. But live animals produce excrement and a lot of waste when they are killed, so Nasa commissioned the team to grow just the animals' edible muscle.

Dr Benjaminson and his colleagues cut chunks of muscle 5cm to 10cm long from large goldfish. After washing the pieces in alcohol, they immersed them in the vat of foetal bovine serum, which biologists use for growing cells in the lab.

Colin Pillinger, head of the Planetary Space Science Research Institute at the Open University in Milton Keynes, said: "Fish mass grown in nutrient broth sounds as unappealing as some of the other food astronauts take up with them, but these things have got to be explored."