Cultivated, Cell-Cultured & Biotechnology

China’s Jimi Biotech Develops “World’s First” Deer Antler Stem Cell Line

Chinese cellular agriculture company Jimi Biotech has developed what it claims is the first ever deer antler stem cell line. So far, the line has undergone over 60 passages, with a doubling time of under 24 hours.

Deer antlers are widely used in China for dietary and medicinal purposes, and the market exceeds 3 billion RMB (about $412 million). They have been extensively studied for their ability to completely regenerate under natural conditions, with some researchers believing they could have anti-aging properties. The stem cells, which make up less than 1% of the antler structure, play a key role in this ability.

The cells used by Jimi Biotech were derived from the tip of the first two-bar antler of a three-year-old Sika deer. Prime-aged deer are said to have the best-quality antlers, while regeneration is believed to be strongest at the tips.

Jimi Biotech is expected to submit a regulatory approval filing for its first cultivated deer antler products in 2024.

100% cells cultivated chicken
Cultivated Chicken, image courtesy of Jimi Biotech

Focus on premium products

Jimi Biotech’s cell lines are produced using its AI-driven in-house system, JEVOS. So far, the high-throughput, automated cell evolution platform has been used to obtain cell lines from multiple species, including deer, cattle, and chickens.

At the beginning of this year, Jimi Biotech announced the completion of an angel round of RMB20 million (around $3 million) to accelerate its cultivated meat production, after developing what was claimed to be China’s first cultivated beef. Just two months later, the company unveiled what was said to be the country’s first fully cultivated chicken, made without plant scaffolding. But due to cost constraints, Jimi Biotech now plans to focus on cultivated deer antler products for the time being.

“While we have significantly reduced the cost of cultivated meat, it’s important to acknowledge that achieving price parity will likely take several years,” said Zhehou Cao, founder of Jimi Biotech. “In the interim, we aim to offer products that can substantiate their premium pricing. Given the high value and popularity of deer antlers, which are often sold at tens of thousands of yuan per kilogram or more, we already have a cost advantage. Additionally, the incorporation of deer antler stem cells can augment the value proposition of our meat offerings. We will begin by selling deer antler products, and as we continuously reduce costs, we will move on to selling cultivated beef, followed by other more affordable meats such as pork and chicken.”

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