Big Tissue: on mass producing body parts in vitro
Neil Stephens (Brunel University London)
Paper short abstract:
Big Tissue - the promise and achievement of significant upscale in tissue engineering and biofabrication - will be analysed through four case studies: cultured skin, cultured blood, cultured meat, and biofabricated animal products.
Paper long abstract:
This paper reviews the notion of Big Tissue: the promise and achievement of significant upscale in tissue engineering and biofabrication. It explores four examples of Big Tissue: cultured skin, cultured blood, cultured meat, and a set of biofabricated animal products (synbio/fermentation produced leather, milk, and rhino horn). In doing it demonstrates how Big Tissue deploys multiple technologies and crosses multiple application sites (biomedicine, agro-food, conservation). The paper discusses how Big Tissue invokes both quantitative changes (more tissue) and qualitative changes (novel socio-technical relationships, ethics, and politics), and as such demands social science attention and analysis. Drawing upon extensive empirical work conducted within the cultured meat community, the paper will be an initial statement of what form this social science work should take, and how STS can inform it.
Joining together cells and tissues: novel in vitro technologies in context