Lab-Grown Cheese Made by ‘Milking’ Genetically Modified Yeast Cells

Real cheese from genetically-modified organisms for vegans!

Oakland’s Counter Culture Labs and Sunnyvale’s BioCurious are teaming up to make vegan cheese in the lab. But this is no dubious nut or soy cheese. We’re talking the real deal—only no animals were harmed, or even directly involved, in the making of the cheese.

In their recently launched Indiegogo campaign, the Real Vegan Cheese team describes how this is possible. As you might have guessed, the secret is a combination of genomics, synthetic biology, and genetic modification.

The team first studied animal genomes to isolate the gene sequences responsible for producing milk protein or casein.  After optimizing the genes to work within yeast, they synthesized the gene from scratch in a genetic compiler, base pair by base pair. There’s no need to touch a cow in the making of the cheese.

These synthetic milk genes are inserted into yeast cells which begin manufacturing caseins. After the cells have been left to do their thing for awhile, the scientists separate yeast from caseins, add sugar (not lactose—making the cheese edible for the lactose intolerant), water, and vegetable oil.

They now have real (synthetically derived) milk and can make any cheese using traditional techniques. And when they say any cheese, they mean it. The process isn’t constrained to cow DNA. They could, for example, use human genes. This may be disturbing, but in fact, we’re better at digesting milk from our own species.

Ah, yeah…

This oughta placate the most hard-core of vegans


3 thoughts on “Lab-Grown Cheese Made by ‘Milking’ Genetically Modified Yeast Cells

    • Thanks!

      I should warn you, though: you may be disappointed, not only because I’m not actually a vegan or vegetarian myself – and my politics are pretty much the opposite of anything ‘progressive’ – but because this blog is not normally about such things; it’s about a wide variety of subjects; I just found this one of interest, because I like cheese, and my background is science. 🙂


    • My blog is about miscellaneous weird stuff, of all different kinds. You may or may not like it; take a look around, and see. You might like my ‘Sunny Side’ blog, as it’s about good news, cheerful things; less weird stuff than this. I don’t know if you’ll like my other blogs, but they’re linked from here, too.

      Cheers. 🙂

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