Production of Leather-like Materials by Cellular Agriculture

Dana Wilson, Olga Tsigkou, Lucy Bosworth, Celina Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Leather, a popular material in a wide array of industries, is traditionally sourced from animal hides.
The scale of production has increased over time, leading to ever-greater concerns about the
environmental, ethical and health impacts of leather manufacture. The substantial resources
required, plus the pollution and waste generated, pose serious doubts over the sustainability of
existing production systems and their ability to meet the increasing demand for leather-like
materials. To address these issues, alter- natives to leather have been developed. Up to now though,
these materials have been unable to perform as well as genuine leather, either mechanically,
aesthetically or texturally. Some of the polymer-based alternatives may even be more harmful to the
environment than leather itself. The need for a more-suitable leather substitute has coincided with
the emergence of cellular agriculture technologies. In the future, it is hoped that leather-like
materials may be engineered from collagen created by cellular agriculture, instead of relying upon
animal slaughter. Such a material could offer great design, sustainability, environmental and ethical
benefits over real leather. Whilst there is significant potential, more investment in research and
development is needed before the technology can be considered sufficiently well developed. So far,
tissue engineering techniques applied from clinical fields have proven too costly and inefficient for
scaling up, but work has already commenced to identify sources of collagen and cell growth media
that are less animal-dependent and not so expensive.Even so, more-efficient methods of controlling
the collagen network structure still need to be created. The new round of research is therefore
expected to focus upon increasing cell-culture efficiency using, for example, specialised bioreactors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-45
Number of pages45
JournalTextile Progress
Volume55
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jun 2023

Keywords

  • Leather
  • biomaterial
  • cellular agriculture
  • collagen
  • leather-like
  • sustainability
  • tissue engineering

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