First, CMFRI will start developing lab-grown fish meat in India.

In India, ICAR-Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) has for the first time launched a major project to develop lab-grown fish meat. The initiative aims to meet the growing demand for seafood and reduce excessive pressure on natural resources. Cultured fish meat or laboratory-grown fish meat is produced by isolating certain cells from fish and growing them under laboratory conditions in an environment free of animal components. The final product mimics the original taste, texture and nutritional characteristics of the fish. 

In the initial phase, the institute will focus on the development of cell-based meat from valuable marine fish such as kingfish, pomfret and seers. Accordingly, CMFRI has entered into a research collaboration agreement with Neat Meatt Biotech, a start-up promoting the development of cultured meat, to launch this initiative in a public-private partnership mode. CMFRI Director Gopalakrishnan and Neat Meat Biotech Founder and CEO Sandeep Sharma signed an MoU in this regard.

Under the Memorandum of Understanding, CMFRI is conducting early cell line development research in valuable marine fish species. This involves isolating and culturing fish cells for further research and development. In addition, CMFRI is carrying out genetic, biochemical and analytical work related to the project. At the main site of the institute, there is a cell culture laboratory, which creates a solid foundation for cell biology research.

Neat Meat, with expertise in cell culture technology, leads optimization of cell growth media, development of scaffolds or microcarriers for cell attachment, and scale-up of production using bioreactors. They also provide the necessary consumables, labor and additional equipment needed for the entire project. “This project aims to accelerate the development of this sector, ensuring that India does not lag behind in this emerging industry,” said A Gopalakrishnan, Director, CMFRI.

“This public-private partnership is an important step between India and other countries such as Singapore, Israel and the United States, which are already promoting farmed seafood research. Lab-grown fish offer tremendous potential to benefit the environment and food security, and this collaboration leverages CMFRI’s marine research expertise and Neat Meatt’s technological expertise in the field, paving the way for a sustainable and safe future for seafood production in India”, said Gopalakrishnan Sandeep Sharma, Founder and CEO, Neat Meat Biotech expressed the belief that the proof of concept of the project can be obtained within a few months.

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