American biotech startup to grow leather in a lab | SupportBiz

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American biotech startup to grow leather in a lab

The leather jacket that you have always fancied could actually be made with stuff grown in a lab, according to a firm backed by PayPal billionaire Peter Thiel. The firm, Modern Meadow, says lab-grown leather could be on sale within five years, leading to a new range of ethical leather clothing.

"Our emphasis first is not on meat, it's on leather. The main reason is that, technically, skin is a simpler structure than meat, making it easier to produce," a Daily Mail report quoted the company's cofounder and CEO Andras Forgacsays as saying.

"Anecdotally, we've found that around 40 percent of people would be willing to try cultured meat. There's much less controversy around using leather that doesn't involve killing animals," he said.

The firm hopes the project, which recently received a grant of 220,000 pounds from Peter Thiel, could ease environmental concerns over meat production.

Cells are sourced from a biopsy of a cow. Millions of extracted cells are placed in a bioreactor or other growth apparatus. Cells are put together in layers to fuse them together, and then placed back in a bioreactor to mature.

After several weeks, no more food is provided to the cells. Skin tissue turns to hide, and muscle and fat tissue is harvested for food.