Cell culture has been, over a little more than 100 years, an important method of research in laboratories. But medicine developments aside, we wonder if even the most positive of idealists could have also believed that cell cultures would possibly change the way – and what – we eat. From the lab to the dining table, there’s cell culture equipment to make even the unimaginable possible.
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Shakers, incubators, bioreactors – cell culture technology for your production
Cell culture manufacturing is largely used in the production of vaccines, treatments for cancer, and therapeutic proteins and antibodies. There are two sources where to obtain the cell material: through a cell stock, thawing the frozen cells and including them in the culture, and through the isolation of the cells of a donor tissue.
Before starting the culture, producers carry on cell seeding and observation. Cell seeding guarantees the right cell density, and observation defines if the cells are viable and not contaminated by foreign objects.
Shake flasks are usually the tool in these initial stages. If everything is correct, then you can place the flasks in a CO2 incubator. In it, the concentration of oxygen is lower compared to a non-controlled environment, so the cells can start culturing.
Some producers may prefer to use an integrated incubator shaker instead of a flask and a separate incubator, to simplify the process in one place. In this case, you need to define which incubator shaker design fits best to your needs.
Apart from these options, it’s also possible to use a bioreactor as your cell culture equipment. It will help further control, in real-time, the biology of the cells, as well as to fulfill criteria related to quality and efficacy. The most common type that producers use is the stirred-tank bioreactor (STR), which can be easily adjusted for large scale production.
Culture conditions: preparing the environment for your cell lines
Choosing equipment is important. But, to promote cell growth, you need more than cell culture technology; you also need to provide an environment with good conditions for it to work. Researchers use cell lines to conduct different experiments because they can evaluate how a set of cells with the same characteristics respond when submitted to varied conditions.
When creating these lines, one essential part of the process is to set the media formulation that will help cell types to grow. Basic culture medium composition includes glucose, amino acids (the most prominent one being L-glutamine), vitamins, proteins, antibiotics, and inorganic salts. Other components, however, vary according to the outcome expected from those cell lines. The insect cells culture, for instance, benefit from TC-100, while many mammalian cells are supported by RPMI 1640.
Set the optimal conditions for your stem cells culture
Stem cell culture is a valuable asset for research. These cells are particularly interesting due to their nature, as what makes them unique is exactly their ability to differentiate themselves into any cell and self-renew. Nonetheless, it’s precisely because of this that culturing stem cells require extra care and attention in order to provide the right environment for their growth. Stem cells can easily differentiate if the optimal conditions are not reached, but they can also stop responding to growth stimuli, going through the phenomenon of cellular senescence.