However, previous attempts to cultivate green meat have made it difficult to restore the long filamentous muscle fibers that make up meat.
For their research, the Harvard team borrowed a popular carnival food and spun edible fibers from gelatin using rotary jet spinning, similar to how cotton candy is made. The fibers resemble the "extracellular matrix" of the natural tissue – the "glue" that binds the tissue.
The rabbit and cow cells anchored on the gelatinous surfaces and grew much like real flesh in long and thin strips. Compared to tissue from natural rabbit muscle, the protein of the biotechnologically produced meat looked quite similar, although its tissue distribution was more similar to processed meat such as ground beef than to unprepared meat, the study said.
How close are we to eating meat from the lab?
There are still hurdles to bringing meat to supermarket shelves. The engineers are still perfecting the cultivation of the meat in large quantities and creating products that mimic the natural taste and texture of the meat.
But it is a far more environmentally friendly method of meat production and consumption which could mean fewer animals will be bred and slaughtered in the future.