Monday 12 December 2022

The Best Cell Culture Techniques to Follow

                             By kaibara87 - originally posted to Flickr as Cell Culture, CC BY 2.0,

Keeping cell cultures alive, thriving and viable is more challenging than it might seem. However, people can avoid many common issues by following some best practices in cell culture techniques. Here are some of them. 


By Emily Newton 


Adjust the CO2 Percentage in the Incubator When Working Above Sea Level


The effective use of cell culture incubators requires using the right CO2 percentages. The CO2 associated with a cell incubator dissolves into the cell culture medium. It then forms carbonic acid after reacting with water.


The carbonic acid interacts with its conjugate base, which controls the stability of the physiological pH level through the bicarbonate buffering system. The amount of sodium bicarbonate in the cell culture medium dictates the CO2 needed to maintain the pH level. 



The common belief is that incubators need CO2 levels set at 5%, no matter if people use the products at sea level or higher altitudes. However, the CO2’s partial pressure influences the pH level. This is much lower at higher altitudes, necessitating an increase in the CO2 percentage. One recommendation is to increase it to 7% in Bogotá, Colombia, for example.

Identify Weaknesses That Compromise Cell Culture Success


People should also get back to basics with cell culture techniques by targeting operational shortcomings that limit the success of cell culture efforts, compromise productivity or cause other unwanted outcomes.


The incorrect or illegible labeling of cell sample inventories in freezers or cryotanks can cause mistakes and general confusion. However, hiring an external company to create or improve an inventory system can increase efficiency. That service provider can also train employees in maintenance, making the changes sustainable.


Gaps in employee training could also mean people don’t consistently follow the correct cell culture techniques. Contamination and cell death are more likely to happen in such cases. However, revamping the worker education program is a good starting point for making a company more productive and competitive.

Assess Whether to Save Contaminated Cultures


Sample contamination is a risk and a reality, even when people rigidly adhere to the appropriate cell culture techniques and preventive measures. When it happens, managers and other decision-makers are in the challenging position of evaluating whether to rescue or scrap contaminated cultures.


Dr. Elisabetta Difilippo, who works at Corning Life Sciences and supports clients in the EMEA region, suggests considering resources when making such choices. Additionally, she cautions that it’s sometimes difficult to trust the experiment results associated with recovered samples. Thus, people should quantify the time, effort, personnel and other resources necessary to save the contaminated cultures. Doing so will make it easier to determine if going to all that trouble is worthwhile.


It could take at least a week to start over. However, accepting that longer timeframe may be the best option if the trustworthiness of the rescued cultures remains in doubt.

Investigate How Emerging Technologies Could Support Cell Culture Techniques


Some lab technicians are interested in how their cell culture techniques could evolve with the help of new technologies. Deploying those options can take a while, but the payoffs could be significant in the right use cases. Robots have disrupted methods for everything from education to space exploration. They could have similar impacts on cell culture approaches.


In one case, a team from the RIKEN Center for Biosystems Dynamics Research demonstrated that artificial intelligence (AI) and robots accelerated the process of determining the best conditions for growing replacement retina layers that help people see. AI algorithms examined 200 million possibilities before making the final determination. The results improved cell culture recipes and could help reshape regenerative medicine.


Elsewhere, researchers associated with MIT’s research enterprise in Singapore demonstrated a machine learning method to detect adventitious microbial contamination in mesenchymal stromal cell (MSC) cultures. It reportedly assesses in near real-time whether a sample is clean or contaminated.


Those working on the project said everyone could benefit from this development. Employees at facilities handling cell cultures can run tests quickly and with fewer resources. Plus, patients receiving cell therapy can feel confident in the quality control behind such treatments.

Seize Digitization Opportunities in Cell Culture Monitoring


Many of the conventional cell culture techniques related to monitoring happen by hand. People must open incubators for visual checks or examine cell vessels under microscopes. However, such processes are often costly and inefficient. Plus, they aren’t necessarily the best ways to look for problems.


However, some companies offer optical sensors for real-time cell culture monitoring. Users can get ongoing statistics about the pH level, biomass and dissolved oxygen. The data makes it easier to optimize processes and increase reproducibility within a lab.


Plus, the transition from manual tasks should reduce errors and allow the facility to maintain or increase its output without hiring more employees. Having a digital record of cell culture activity is also useful when determining why things went wrong and reducing such problems in the future.

Continuous Improvement Is Essential


Culturing cells is a highly involved process that can be significantly influenced by external factors. However, it becomes easier to reduce unwanted variability in success rates when people periodically review and revise the cell culture techniques used in their labs.


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