The ICAR-Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) has initiated a groundbreaking project to develop lab-grown fish meat, marking a significant milestone in India. The objective is to advance the production of cultured marine fish meat, addressing the rising demand for seafood and alleviating the strain on wild resources.
Lab-grown fish meat involves isolating specific cells from fish and cultivating them in a laboratory using animal component-free media. The end product aims to replicate the original flavour, texture, and nutritional qualities of the fish. The initial focus is on developing cell-based meat from high-value marine fishes such as kingfish, pomfret, and seer fish.
In a strategic move, CMFRI has joined forces with Neat Meatt Biotech, a startup dedicated to cultivated meat development, in a public-private partnership. The Memorandum of Understanding signed by CMFRI Director Dr A Gopalakrishnan and Neat Meatt Biotech Co-founder and CEO Dr Sandeep Sharma outlines the collaboration. CMFRI will conduct research on early cell line development of high-value marine fish species, encompassing the isolation and cultivation of fish cells. The institute will also handle the genetic, biochemical, and analytical aspects of the project.
Equipped with a cell culture laboratory, CMFRI provides the foundational facilities for cellular biology research. Neat Meatt, leveraging its expertise in cell culture technology, will lead efforts in optimizing cell growth media, developing scaffolds or microcarriers for cell attachment, and scaling up production through bioreactors. The startup will also contribute consumables, manpower, and any necessary additional equipment.
Dr A Gopalakrishnan emphasized the project’s importance in propelling India’s development in this field, preventing it from lagging behind nations like Singapore, Israel, and the USA, which are already advancing cultured seafood research. He sees the collaboration as a crucial step in bridging the gap and harnessing the potential of lab-grown fish for environmental and food security benefits.
Dr Sandeep Sharma expressed confidence in establishing the proof of concept within a couple of months, underscoring the project’s potential for a sustainable and secure future for seafood production in India.