Accepted paper:

The promise and challenges of human and animal stem cell tissue economies


Elisabeth Abergel (Université du Québec à Montréal)
Céline Lafontaine (Université de Montréal)

Paper short abstract:

Our paper deals with the promises and challenges of the stem cell tissue economy in the area of bioprinted/biofabricated human and animal tissues. At the intersection between biomedical and agricultural applications we will show how both follow the logic of biomedicalisation and biocitizenship.

Paper long abstract:

Our proposed paper will discuss the intersection of health and agriculture in the case of the biofabrication (including bioprinting) of human tissues and animal tissues. The distinction and similarities between therapeutic tissues and edible tissues will be highlighted, in particular how each function in the promise economy. The field of bioprinting in particular is characterized by a wide gap between the hopes it raises in the area personalized medicine (individualized tissues for drug testing and for nutritional/therapeutic treatment) and regenerative medicine (tissue and organ transplantation) and their concrete realization. In particular, the discussion will focus on the sociotechnical hurdles in both human bioprinting and animal cellular agriculture which highlight a futuristic and optimistic vision of potential applications. Because this field of biomedical innovation rests on a stem cell bioeconomy, we will explore the economic and social impacts of bioprinting/biofabrication as they relate to the status of bioprinted/biofabricated human and animal tissues. More concretely, we will show that current production of bioprinted human tissues is more in line with the pharmaceutical industry than regenerative medicine, and that in the case of in vitro meat, it is aligned with a cellular agriculture approach that include pharmaceutical applications. In both cases, we will explore the themes of regenerative medicine and cellular agriculture as serving the promise economy for communities of patients and eaters. Finally, we will examine how promissory discourse in both areas of research fall within the logics of biomedicalisation and neoliberal biocitizenship.

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Art and craft of joining and keeping things together
Joining together cells and tissues: novel in vitro technologies in context