As advancements in cell-cultured meat take the revolutionary food tech from the lab to the dinner plate, a similar revolution could be underway in the fashion industry. Scientists have completed the world’s first in vitro hair follicle inseparably linked to collagen in order to cultivate cell-based fur and wool.
With the power to make the breeding of animals for fur obsolete, startups like Furoid SE are optimizing cutting-edge techniques to “bioprint” animal fur without any cruelty to animals. The team has developed a system in which multiple single stem cells are brought together in the right conditions to spontaneously grow into a three-dimensional miniature tissue, which in this case would be a fur or wool follicle.
Many countries and fashion brands are currently doing away with fur, under pressure from animal rights groups and sway in public opinion against the barbarity of the fur trade. However, as CEO of Furoid, Maria Zakurnaeva, pointed out to Innovation Origins; “Fur is the epitome of luxury, so there will always be people who want to show their status to the outside world.”
The technology could not only make fur farms obsolete, but also has huge environmental benefits. The need for the pollutive processes of tanning and dyeing can be eliminated, as well as a move away from synthetic plastic-based materials. Researchers say the technology is still in its infancy but the sector could one day receive the same type of investment seen in the cell-based meat sphere.