New Journal Article Urges Use of Animal Serum-Free Media for Growing Live Cells
Obtaining Serum by Cardiac Puncture of Fetal Calves Raises Ethical Concerns; Non-Animal Alternatives Scientifically Superior
WASHINGTON—In the March issue of Trends in Biotechnology, scientists and doctors with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) recommend using only animal serum-free media to grow live cells in the laboratory. At issue is the use of fetal calf serum, which is obtained by puncturing the heart of a fetal calf without anesthesia. Recent breakthroughs permit the growth of human cells in a medium free of animal serum, enabling scientists and researchers to make cell culture safer and more humane.
“Scientists have access to humane and scientifically superior alternatives, so now is the time to completely eliminate the use of fetal calf serum in the laboratory,” says Megha Shah Even, M.S., a staff scientist at PCRM and lead author of the paper. Live cells grown in the laboratory are used for many purposes, including the manufacture of drugs and diagnostic kits.
Trends in Biotechnology, based in the United Kingdom, invited Mrs. Even to submit a paper after learning that she spearheaded the development of the world’s first animal serum-free insulin assay. In addition to humane concerns, the article emphasizes the scientific advantages of serum-free cell culture. Growing cells without animal serum ensures that fewer variables are introduced into experiments, meaning that results are easily reproducible by different laboratories.
Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.
Jeanne S. McVey
News article: “Stem cells grown in medium free of animal products”
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