Lab-grown leather looms
New leather products may be produced with zero discomfort to cows.
Biotech company 3D Bio-Tissues says it has successfully cultivated fully natural animal skin, paving the way for lab-grown leather goods.
The company has grown 10cm by 10cm squares of tissue, a significant milestone in producing leather without the need for animals.
Dr Che Connon, CEO of 3D Bio-Tissues, envisions a future where they can create “skin by the metre” and bring artificial leather products to the market within five years.
The technology has already caught the attention of established consumer brands seeking to produce goods with the same durability and aesthetic qualities as traditional leather, but without the ethical concerns.
Dr Connon says the growing environmental awareness among high-end fashion consumers makes the development a crucial step in addressing animal welfare issues.
What sets 3D Bio-Tissues apart is their ability to grow products without the use of scaffolds, which are typically required to align the tissue correctly.
Instead, the company's engineers have replicated the biochemical and biophysical cues found in the body, allowing cells to spontaneously arrange themselves in the desired pattern.
This approach eliminates the need for animal-derived serums, synthetic fillers, or blends, resulting in a 100 per cent animal tissue leather that still feels natural.
Central to the process is the company's supplement ‘City-Mix’, which mimics a vital tissue growth process called “macromolecular crowding”. This phenomenon involves large molecules bringing growth factors closer together, stimulating cell proliferation and sometimes differentiation.
By avoiding artificial scaffolds and fillers, 3D Bio-Tissues ensures the authenticity of their lab-grown leather.
Richard Gouveia, the company's chief scientific officer, describes the artificial skin as supple, tough, and capable of retaining moisture like normal skin.
Furthermore, the lab-grown leather can be customised to replicate different grain patterns found in natural leather or can be entirely smooth.