However, previous attempts to grow environmentally friendly meat found it difficult to recreate the long, heavy muscle fibers that make up meat.
For their research, the Harvard team borrowed from a carnival food favorite and spun edible fiber made of gelatin using rotary jet spinning, a process similar to how cotton candy is made. The fibers resemble natural tissue "extracellular matrix" – the "glue" that binds tissue.
Rabbit and gum cells anchored to the gelatinous bases and grew in the same way as real meats in long and thin strips. Compared to the tissue in natural rabbit muscle, the protein from the bioengineered meat looked quite similar, although its tissue distribution was more similar to processed meat as minced meat than unprepared meat, the study states.
How close are we to eating meat from the lab?
It is still an obstacle to get the meat to the supermarket shelves. Engineers still perfect the cultivation of the meat in large quantities and create products that mimic the natural taste and structure of meat.
But it is a much greener method of meat production and consumption that could mean fewer animals will be farmed and slaughtered in the future.