Science Wants to Grow Chicken in a Test Tube

First came the $325,000 lab-grown burger. Now a group of Israeli scientists want to tackle that other protein found on every store-bought salad and deli panini: the humble chicken.

Mar 13 2015, 9:37pm

It's been two years since the world was introduced to the prospect of a hamburger grown entirely inside a lab, without a single cow slaughtered in the process.

And even though cultured meat is still a long ways away from any of our dinner plates—the original in vitro burger took two years to develop, cost $325,000, and still lacked a certain je ne sais quoi in the flavor department—scientists aren't giving up on the dream of murder-free meat anytime soon.

READ: These Veggie Burgers Taste Like Blood

According to Reuters, a group of Israeli researchers are now hard at work on the world's first lab-grown chicken. The project is being funded not by Google's Sergey Brin—who kicked in a significant chuck of dough for the lab-grown beef—but by a non-profit group called the Modern Agriculture Foundation. It aims to replace conventionally raised (and slaughtered) meat with the cultured kind.

But Professor Amit Gefen, one of the bioengineers behind the chicken project, says that he faces an even more difficult task than the Maastricht University mad scientists behind the in vitro burger, which was effectively stitched together with small muscle fibers grown from stem cells.

"Rather than gathering small fibers of cow muscle into one big chunk of meat," Reuters reports, "Gefen will try to make a whole piece of chicken, starting from a single cell."

It's worth pointing out, however, that just because a piece of meat was grown in a petri dish doesn't necessarily mean it's suddenly palatable to vegetarians. In fact, impressive strides have been made in creating veggie burgers out of plant waste, and even veggie burgers that bleed like succulently rare beef.

While we wait for lab-grown beef to drop down to a more reasonable price and cultured breasts to start popping up in test tubes, a bloody veggie burger might be a fine substitute.