Further simulation is crucial if precision fermentation and cultured meat production is ever to scale-up and deliver commercial success

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Large-scale production of food and beverage ingredients using synthetic biology techniques requires the skilful application of supporting technologies, according to Sagentia Innovation.

Scientists at the R&D consultancy say holistic approaches are necessary to help overcome technical barriers to commercialisation of precision fermentation, cell culture, and tissue engineering. The integration of additional technologies with core synthetic biology processes could help improve performance and yield.

For instance, the inherent variability of biological systems becomes more pronounced and difficult to control when scaling up synthetic biology techniques. However, tools such as computational fluid dynamic (CFD) modelling can be applied to help overcome challenges that hinder reliable, repeatable, and cost-effective mass production. Simulation can also be used to determine critical parameters, such as temperature, pH, or nutrient concentration. Another advantage of simulation is the ability to enable continuous optimisation for ongoing performance improvement. The need for improved bioreactor control and support for upscaling create opportunities for sensor innovation and data-driven, machine learning approaches.

Eris Duro, senior consultant at Sagentia Innovation, says supporting technologies could allow synthetic biology to meet the requirements of commercial food and beverage production sooner.

“Precision fermentation, cell culture, and tissue engineering hold great potential for a more sustainable food and beverage sector,” Duro explains. “However, there are relatively few examples of commercialised synthetic biology products reaching consumers. It’s nearly three years since Eat Just’s cultured chicken gained approval in Singapore, yet most of the synthetic biology products on the market are high-value, low-volume ingredients such as flavourings. The challenge of cost-effective production at scale is a major barrier. Supporting technologies will play a critical role overcoming this challenge and expediting progress.”