Tissue Culture Media


The Essential Properties of Media Used for In-Vitro Tissue Culture

The ability to isolate and grow living cells really began with the birth of microbiology. While, based upon his role in the production of vaccines for rabies and anthrax, and the sterilisation process known as pasteurisation, Louis Pasteur is often cited as the father of this science. It is, however, his German contemporary, Dr Robert Koch, who is considered to be the father of tissue culture media. He took samples from infected human and animal tissue and inoculated them into a broth prepared form sterilised beef serum. With the aid of his co-workers, Koch isolated and identified the pathogens responsible for all of the known infectious diseases at the time – the 19th century.

While Pasteur and Koch were focussing on perfecting bacterial growth methods, German zoologist, Wilhelm Roux, turned his attention to animal cells. He maintained a sample taken from an embryonic chicken in a warm saline solution for several days. A few years later, the American, Ross G Hamilton, grew nerve cells from an embryonic frog in coagulated lymph. Their work established the feasibility of in-vitro animal tissue culture and the basic requirements for the nutrient media with which to achieve this.

The source of such materials may be either natural or artificial in origin. The former variety includes, among other things, body fluids such as plasma, lymph or amniotic fluid, and extracts taken from livers, bone marrow, leucocytes or chick embryos. Whatever their source, the basic need is for a medium that is isotonic, sterile and free from any potentially harmful contaminants, has a near-neutral pH and contains an adequate supply of the specific nutrients essential for the growth of the particular tissue variety that is to be cultured.

While it is perfectly possible for a laboratory to produce preparations such as these in-house, it is a time-consuming process that, in a busy lab, can often be a full-time task for one or more personnel. Moreover, it is difficult to guarantee that in-house preparations are of the consistent composition needed to ensure accurate and reproducible results. For these reasons, most laboratory managers accept that the more cost-effective choice is to purchase proprietary media both for microbial and animal or plant tissue culture.

In South Africa, IEPSA has been a leading supplier of reagents and equipment for bio-medical research and diagnostic procedures for more than 35 years, providing quality products and professional support to veterinary labs, pathology departments, universities and medical research bodies nationwide. As biomedical and related technologies have evolved, so too has the range of disciplines that we now support. In addition to a wide range of products for use in the quality control of foodstuffs, beverages and water, and materials for assisted reproduction, the growth in stem cell research, cytogenetics and cell therapy has seen IEPSA take the lead as a local supplier of the specialised growth media and apparatus used in tissue culture.

In keeping with our policy of sourcing top-quality products, our apparatus used in tissue culture are sourced from the US manufacturer Irvine Scientific, who is widely recognised as an industry leader. These include various salt solutions, classical serum-based and serum-free products, antibiotics and biochemicals, as well as a range of cell cryopreservation solutions to limit the risk of cellular stress that may occur when chilling and re-warming live biological material.

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