- Omeat, the Los Angeles-based cultivated-meat startup is now among the few revenue generating companies in the space after launching and completing the first official sale of Plenty — a serum with nutrients that replace those in fetal bovine serum (FBS), which is a critical agent in the cell culture process.
- The company claims that Plenty is an “ethical replacement that is equally effective but available for a fraction of the cost,” and they are planning to sell the serum to cultivated meat companies, as well as firms in biopharma, regenerative medicine and vaccine development that use in-vitro cell culture.
- Plenty, Omeat’s B2B arm, is the first product that offers an alternative to FBS — which poses ethical challenges and a high production cost — and is available to buy for cultivated meat companies.
FBS has traditionally been used as an agent in the cell-culture process. The serum is harvested from bovine fetuses that are taken from pregnant cows during their mutual slaughter. Critics have called this method unethical, as well as “exorbitantly expensive.”
As a result, cultivated-meat companies have been seeking alternatives like Omeat’s Plenty, a nutrient-rich cell culture supplement filled with growth factors and cytokines that play an essential role in regenerative medicine, cell culture, and vaccine production of different types of cells, such as mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) solution, the FBS replacement could be a game changer for the industry.
"Synthetic serum substitutes, defined media, and serum-free media have been developed before as alternatives, but they've come with limitations that have hindered their viability as a replacement to FBS,” Omeat's Founder & CEO Ali Khademhosseini, said in a press release announcing Plenty. “That's why we developed Plenty: an affordable, effective, and slaughter-free cell culture supplement product."
Omeat launched in June after being in stealth mode for four years. The company is doing things differently as it uses animals to make its cultivated-meat products.
Instead of using cell growth media derived from pharmaceutical-grade ingredients, the company makes it from plasma drawn from its own herd of cattle. The plasma has a wide variety of nutrients and factors that can naturally grow cells, said Khademhosseini, who says he never thought that taking animals out of the equation entirely was a necessary part of the process.
In order to create Plenty, Omeat hooks up cows to a plasmapheresis machine that collects blood, separates out the plasma and returns the remaining blood components to the cow, according to reporting from the AgFunder Network.
Consumer acceptance and education are at the forefront of challenges facing the cultivated-meat space, and experts have said that the secret to scaling production to bring down costs may lie in partnerships with traditional meat companies.
Omeat believes that this product will help other organizations in the space scale, and feel good about doing it.
"At Omeat, we saw how the implementation of Plenty significantly helped our product, ethos, and overall ecosystem,” said Khademhosseini. “We're looking forward to scaling and helping other companies that are changing the world, allowing them to achieve their goals with a product they can feel good about using."