A vaccine to protect against chlamydia is now a step closer to becoming reality after a pioneering clinical trial has found the treatment to be safe.

Researchers from the Imperial College London and the Statens Serum Institut in Copenhagen tested two formulations of a vaccine, with each type given to 15 women aged between 19 and 45. Another five women were given a placebo.

All participants received three injections into their arm over four months, followed by two doses administered through a nasal spray in the weeks after.

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Cell-cultured or lab-grown meat

Singapore first in world to approve lab-grown meat for sale
The Singapore Food Agency is allowing Eat Just's cultured chicken to be sold here after an evaluation process which looked at factors such as the product's manufacturing process and toxicity of ingredients, as well as whether the final product meets the standards in food regulation

Menus here could soon feature chicken grown in facilities such as bioreactors instead of farms, as the authorities have deemed one such product safe for consumption.

Regulatory approvals are in place for a particular cultured chicken, making it the first time in the world that cultured meat products will go on sale. These products are made by culturing animal cells instead of by slaughter and are not yet available for sale and consumption anywhere else.

The cultured chicken bites will be manufactured in Singapore by Californian start-up Eat Just, said its chief executive Josh Tetrick.

Singapore approves lab-grown 'chicken' meat
Eat Just chicken nuggets

Singapore has given regulatory approval for the world’s first “clean meat” that does not come from slaughtered animals. The decision paves the way for San Francisco-based startup Eat Just to sell lab-grown chicken meat. The meat will initially be used in nuggets, but the company hasn’t said when they will become available.

Demand for alternatives to regular meat has surged due to consumer concerns about health, animal welfare and the environment. According to Barclays, the market for meat alternatives could be worth $140bn (£104bn) within the next decade, or about 10% of the $1.4tn global meat industry.

Plant-based meat options such as Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are increasingly found on supermarket shelves and restaurant menus. But Eat Just’s product is different because it is not plant based, but instead grown from animal muscle cells in a lab.

No-kill, lab-grown meat to go on sale for first time
Singapore’s approval of chicken cells grown in bioreactors is seen as landmark moment across industry

Cultured meat, produced in bioreactors without the slaughter of an animal, has been approved for sale by a regulatory authority for the first time. The development has been hailed as a landmark moment across the meat industry. The “chicken bites”, produced by the US company Eat Just, have passed a safety review by the Singapore Food Agency and the approval could open the door to a future when all meat is produced without the killing of livestock, the company said.

Dozens of firms are developing cultivated chicken, beef and pork, with a view to slashing the impact of industrial livestock production on the climate and nature crises, as well as providing cleaner, drug-free and cruelty-free meat. Currently, about 130 million chickens are slaughtered every day for meat, and 4 million pigs. By weight, 60% of the mammals on earth are livestock, 36% are humans and only 4% are wild.

The cells for Eat Just’s product are grown in a 1,200-litre bioreactor and then combined with plant-based ingredients. Initial availability would be limited, the company said, and the bites would be sold in a restaurant in Singapore. The product would be significantly more expensive than conventional chicken until production was scaled up, but Eat Just said it would ultimately be cheaper. The cells used to start the process came from a cell bank and did not require the slaughter of a chicken because cells can be taken from biopsies of live animals. The nutrients supplied to the growing cells were all from plants. The growth medium for the Singapore production line includes foetal bovine serum, which is extracted from foetal blood, but this is largely removed before consumption. A plant-based serum would be used in the next production line, the company said, but was not available when the Singapore approval process began two years ago.

Diners enjoy world’s first restaurant meal made from lab-grown meat
Singapore-based restaurant served up real chicken that didn’t require the slaughter of any animals, paving the way for new ideas about how we eat meat

By the time you read this, a group of friends at a restaurant in Singapore will have shared a three-course meaty meal, which was made without slaughtering any animals – potentially a landmark moment for an industry coming to terms with its impact on the environment.

The cultured chicken used for the meal was grown in bioreactors, similar to the kind used to make beer or yoghurt, by US start-up Eat Just. The meat, branded as GOOD Meat, was approved for sale by the Singapore Food Standards Agency in December 2020, and is the world’s first cultured meat product to be sold commercially. The meals were served up by a restaurant called 1880, which aims to stir up debate around what we eat.

Generally speaking, cultured meat is made by harvesting stem cells from muscle tissue, before placing them in a substance that has everything the cells need to grow and proliferate. At a certain point, these are encouraged to differentiate and they mostly become muscle cells, which merge to form primitive muscle fibres. Eventually this is ground up and shaped into a burger, or in the case of the Singapore restaurant, a “chicken bite”.


Eat Just's Lab-Grown Chicken Gets World’s First Cultured Meat Approval
Eat Just, Inc. announced that its cultured chicken has been approved for sale in Singapore as an ingredient in chicken bites. The company has developed other cultured chicken formats as well

As concern mounts over the environmental impacts of animal agriculture, Singapore has issued the world's first regulatory approval for lab-grown meat.

The Singapore Food Agency (SFA) has declared that the U.S.-based company Eat Just can sell its cultured "chicken bites" in the country, The Guardian reported Wednesday.

"I think the approval is one of the most significant milestones in the food industry in the last handful of decades," Eat Just co-founder and CEO Josh Tetrick said in a statement reported by The Guardian. "It's an open door and it's up to us and other companies to take that opportunity. My hope is this leads to a world in the next handful of years where the majority of meat doesn't require killing a single animal or tearing down a single tree."

The Myth of Cultured Meat

To satisfy the increasing demand for food by the growing human population, cultured meat (also called in vitro, artificial or lab-grown meat) is presented by its advocates as a good alternative for consumers who want to be more responsible but do not wish to change their diet. This review aims to update the current knowledge on this subject by focusing on recent publications and issues not well described previously. The main conclusion is that no major advances were observed despite many new publications.

Indeed, in terms of technical issues, research is still required to optimize cell culture methodology. It is also almost impossible to reproduce the diversity of meats derived from various species, breeds and cuts. Although these are not yet known, we speculated on the potential health benefits and drawbacks of cultured meat. Unlike conventional meat, cultured muscle cells may be safer, without any adjacent digestive organs. On the other hand, with this high level of cell multiplication, some dysregulation is likely as happens in cancer cells. Likewise, the control of its nutritional composition is still unclear, especially for micronutrients and iron. Regarding environmental issues, the potential advantages of cultured meat for greenhouse gas emissions are a matter of controversy, although less land will be used compared to livestock, ruminants in particular.

However, more criteria need to be taken into account for a comparison with current meat production. Cultured meat will have to compete with other meat substitutes, especially plant-based alternatives. Consumer acceptance will be strongly influenced by many factors and consumers seem to dislike unnatural food. Ethically, cultured meat aims to use considerably fewer animals than conventional livestock farming. However, some animals will still have to be reared to harvest cells for the production of in vitro meat. Finally, we discussed in this review the nebulous status of cultured meat from a religious point of view. Indeed, religious authorities are still debating the question of whether in vitro meat is Kosher or Halal (e.g., compliant with Jewish or Islamic dietary laws).

The Problem With Eating Lab-Grown Meat
Photo by freddie marriage on Unsplash

Lab-grown meat, sometimes called cultured meat, clean meat or slaughter-free meat, is meat that is produced in vitro cell culture of animal cells. While it is not the same as the plant-based substitutes produced by start-ups like Beyond Meat or Impossible Foods, lab-grown meat lays claim to many of the same ethical and environmental merits.

Lab-grown meat is intended not as a complete alternative to eating animals, but as a method of severely reducing the number of animals that need to be force-fed and slaughtered for our consumption. By taking a sample of cells from just a few animals, technicians can produce vast quantities of meat in cultured vats.

Because lab-grown meat is meat, it should theoretically share the same taste and texture as conventional meat, if formulated correctly. The only difference is the process by which the quantity of meat ‘expands’. In farms, of course, this process takes the form of large-scale feeding programmes and methods to promote productive reproduction. In labs, however, this process is replaced with carefully selected cultures, designed to maximise the multiplying of cell tissues.

What is Cultured Meat

Cultured Beef is created by painlessly harvesting muscle cells from a living cow. Scientists then feed and nurture the cells so they multiply to create muscle tissue, which is the main component of the meat we eat. It is biologically exactly the same as the meat tissue that comes from a cow.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that the demand for meat is going to increase by more than two-thirds in the next 40 years and current production methods are not sustainable. In the near future both meat and other staple foods are likely to become expensive luxury items, thanks to the increased demand on crops for meat production, unless we find a sustainable alternative.

Livestock contributes to global warming through unchecked releases of methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide. The increase in demand will significantly increase levels of methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide and cause loss of biodiversity.

Cultured meat

The first cultured hamburger, manufactured in August 2013, prior to cooking
Cultured meat is meat produced by in vitro cell culture of animal cells, instead of from slaughtered animals. It is a form of cellular agriculture. Cultured meat is produced using many of the same tissue engineering techniques traditionally used in regenerative medicine. The concept of cultured meat was popularized by Jason Matheny in the early 2000s after co-authoring a seminal paper on cultured meat production and creating New Harvest, the world's first nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting in vitro meat research.

In 2013, Mark Post, a professor at Maastricht University, was the first to showcase a proof-of-concept for cultured meat by creating the first burger patty grown directly from cells. Since then, several cultured meat prototypes have gained media attention: SuperMeat opened a laboratory restaurant called "The Chicken" in Tel Aviv to test consumer reaction to its "Chicken Burger". The "world's first commercial sale of cell-cultured meat" occurred in December 2020 at the Singapore restaurant "1880", where cultured meat manufactured by the US firm Eat Just was sold.

The production process still has much room for improvement, but it has advanced under various companies. Its applications lead it to have several prospective moral, health, environmental, cultural, and economic considerations in comparison to conventional meat.

Cultured lab meat may make climate change worse

Growing meat in the laboratory may do more damage to the climate in the long run than meat from cattle, say scientists. Researchers are looking for alternatives to traditional meat because farming animals is helping to drive up global temperatures. However, meat grown in the lab may make matters worse in some circumstances. Researchers say it depends on how the energy to make the lab meat is produced.

There's increasing concern about the impact of meat consumption on the planet. Around a quarter of the greenhouse gas emissions that are driving up temperatures are estimated to have come from agriculture. Beef production is considered the worst offender with cattle emitting methane and nitrous oxide from their manures, but also from their digestive processes. There are also additional gases from fertiliser application to land, from the conversion of land for pasture or feed production.

Because of these impacts on the climate and because of a range of other concerns about issues such as welfare and sustainability, scientists have in recent years sought to develop meat that can be grown from animal cells in factories or laboratories. One perceived advantage would be much lower greenhouse gas emissions, especially methane.

Beefing up efforts to grow meat in labs
Firms are working on culturing stem cells from chickens, cows and fish to make meat

It is clean, has a low carbon footprint and does not involve any killing. Lab-grown meat is a key protein alternative of the future and could be making its way to dinner plates here, as Singapore ramps up production of home-grown food.

The effort is getting a boost from the Government's Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2020 plan, under which $144 million is going into food-related research, including sustainable urban food production, future foods and food safety science and innovation.

To make meat, stem cells extracted from chickens, cows, fish and pigs will be grown and multiplied in bioreactors, and eventually undergo tissue engineering to make whole meat cuts, say researchers.


An egg yolk can tell about the health of the chicken

Most of us enjoy eating eggs. You can prepare them in different ways and they’re healthy as well. At least … most of the time. But not all eggs look the same; some eggs have dark orange yolks while other eggs have yolks that are much lighter of colour. We wondered what this could mean – does the colour of the yolk say anything about the chicken or about the nutritional value of the egg?

People have said that the colour and shape of the yolk of an egg can tell you something about the health of the chicken that lay it. The general idea is that the darker, firmer and rounder the yolk is, the happier the chicken in question. It’s supposed to be a sign that this chicken had a lot of freedom to walk around and also had a rich and varied diet. On the other hand, a lighter egg yolk is said to indicate an unhealthy life for the chicken. This information was long presumed to be the truth, but it turns out it isn’t true at all! But that leaves the question: what causes the difference in colour for egg yolks and what does it mean?

Food - The one thing we know to be true right now is that egg yolks come in different colours; they can range from dark orange to light yellow. But what does this mean?! Apparently, it doesn’t say anything about the chicken’s health or lifestyle, or about how healthy the yolk is for the person who eats it. All it tells you is what the chicken has been eating before it lay the egg. If the food the chicken ate contained a lot of wheat, the yolk will be yellow. However, if the chicken had a more balanced diet with corn and alfalfa, for example, the yolk will be darker of colour. This is due to the carotene in the corn and alfalfa.

Consequences - All of this has no impact whatsoever on the nutritional value or the taste of the egg. Egg yolks contain vitamins A, D, E and K regardless of their colour and they all taste the same. Plus, while we prefer to buy organic eggs instead of eggs laid by chickens that are kept in close captivity, the truth is that the living conditions of the chicken have no influence on how healthy the egg is.


Helping Youth Fight Depression

Teen angst is a part of growing up, here's how youths can be better equipped to cope and be well-adjusted.

While teen angst is a part of growing up, not all youths are equipped with adequate coping abilities. Some may plunge into a debilitating state of depression. It doesn’t help that youths of today have to deal with increasing competitiveness both at school and work, and rising pressures to keep up with perfect appearances on social media such as Facebook or Snapchat.

Depression is the most common mental illness in Singapore, and 1 out of 17 Singaporeans will have exhibited depression symptoms at least once in their lifetime. If you are a concerned individual with a peer or loved one fighting youth depression, how can you help?

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