We produce meat,
using cellular agriculture

‘Copy and paste’
Emilia Sourtez
Andrew Smith

Every cell in an organism contains all of the information to produce the plant or animal that it comes from; this information is written in its DNA.

At Uncommon, we use the information inside cells to produce our delicious cuts of meat – a process called cellular agriculture. Different types of cells perform different roles in the body: muscle cells behave differently to fat cells, which in turn are different from bone and skin cells. Whilst they all contain the same DNA, these cells don’t use all of that information in the same way – they “read” different parts of their genome, like pages of a script telling them how to perform their specialised roles.

We obtain sample cells — specifically stem cells — from a traditionally farmed animal, and then we nurture them to reach a state where they can infinitely grow using a process called reprogramming. We encourage these stem cells to divide; a process by which one cell splits into two new cells. These new cells may then divide in turn. Stem cells are especially good at this, and they benefit from many natural growth advantages when compared to adult cells. By repeating this cycle of growth and division, we can produce countless numbers of stem cells – enough to feed the world!

To grow our cells, it is essential that we provide them with the same environment they would receive as part of an animal – warmth, nutrients, water, and oxygen. We accomplish this inside large vessels called bioreactors. These vessels measure and respond to the cell population’s needs minute by minute – faster and more accurately than a person could, allowing them to stay healthy, grow, and divide to their fullest potential.

Uncommon meat has the potential to be the same as traditional meat right down to the molecular level.

The stem cells we use are special as whether we started with a skin cell, blood, or any other cells, these cells then have the unique ability to turn into any other kind of cell. They do this through a process known as differentiation. By reading the right “pages” of their DNA code, they can follow naturally evolved biochemical pathways to differentiate into the right type of cells to form new tissues. This allows organisms to grow, develop, and heal.

“Art is something absolute, something positive, which gives power just as food gives power. While creative science is a mental food, art is the satisfaction of the soul.”

Hans Hofmann