Frequently Asked Questions

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What is fetal bovine serum?

Serum is the centrifuged fluid component extracted from either clotted or defibrinated whole blood. Bovine serum comes from blood taken from domestic cattle. While the procedure of making serum may seem straightforward, it takes place under very tightly controlled conditions, with a process that has been carefully developed using sophisticated facilities and equipment. This detailed process is accompanied by extensive testing that is particularly stringent in instances where bovine serum is developed for use in medicinal products.

How is fetal bovine serum used?

There is a wide range of applications for fetal bovine serum, the most significant being biopharmaceuticals and vaccines. FBS is used in the research, manufacturing, and control of human and veterinary vaccines and drugs, many of which are at the cutting edge of drug development. FBS is also used extensively in other areas of research. A technique known as "Cell culture" is widely applied in the manufacturing of both vaccines and biopharmaceuticals, in which bovine serum is broadly used.

Why do cell cultures need serum?

Maintaining cells in vitro over time in a healthy condition is a complex task. They will only survive, grow, and multiply if they are well fed and provided with an appropriate and protective environment. Complex mixtures of substances (also referred to as "media") are used to bathe the cells in order to both feed and protect them. Different cells have different requirements. In many instances, the presence of serum in the mixture is essential if the cells are to grow adequately and normally. Bovine serum is the most widely used, because high-quality bovine serum is available in sufficient volume and has been found to support cell growth very well indeed.

Are some FBS origins better than others?

The serum's origin has no influence on cell growth. Biowest has compared cell growth in FBS from seven different countries on three continents and confirmed that regardless of the country of origin all cell lines tested had the same average performance. One batch of FBS may work well for one specific cell line, but not for another.

"Serum quality" is specific for each cell line, which is why testing of FBS is widely used when dealing with sensitive cell lines. Biowest performs the most extensive analysis of biochemical parameters and testing on cell lines in the industry, making available the results on the Certificates of Analysis.

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