Japanese Researchers 3D Printed a Piece of Pricey Wagyu Beef

Earlier this year multiple startup companies announced they were aiming to bring edible chicken created from stem cells to market by 2022. For an eyebrow-raising price. Now, researchers in Japan say they’ve 3D printed a version of Wagyu beef: i.e. meat from the eponymous Japanese cattle, which is famous for its marbling and how much it costs. Which we can only assume will be far less if/when it starts coming from 3D bioprinters.

A series of pictures from a study, which shows a hunk of 3D bioprinted Wagyu beef at various stages of development.

Dong-Hee Kang, et al./Nature Communications

VICE World News reported on the first-ever 3D-printed Wagyu beef. Researchers at Osaka University created the synthetic cut of meat, outlining their process in a study recently published in the journal Nature Communications. As with the faux chicken, it seems these researchers also began their meat making process with stem cells. Although the 3D bioprinting is definitely next-level sci-fi dinner experience.

To make their cut(?) of meat the researchers used stem cells that they isolated from Japanese Wagyu cows. The researchers isolated stem cells from both the muscle and fat tissue of the cows. They then cultured them to grow into any type of cell necessary to make their own Wag. (That’s what underground market dealers call the meat on the streets. We’re guessing anyway.)

Of course the culmination of the project was the actual 3D bioprinting of the cultured stem cells. As the video above shows the researchers used a 3D bioprinter to organize their beef’s muscle, blood vessel and fat cells into the kind of structure that has the look and feel of the real thing.

A silver, metallic 3D printer using a hollow needle to inject pinkish slime into a rectangular piece of Waygu beef.

Osaka University/Zenger

Sadly, it’s impossible to know at this point how the fake Wagyu tastes. The researchers said in a Zenger newswire release their bioprinted meat does indeed resemble conventional Wagyu. But it’s still experimental and not ready for human consumption. If the researchers can manage to make the meat edible, however, it’ll probably end up in restaurants and on store shelves soon there after. Wagyu can go for anywhere from $100 to $1,000 for a decent cut, after all. And a good price cut on these meat cuts is in order.

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