Racial Disparities in Cell Culture

Racial disparity exists in various diseases that occur in human. In particular, the incidence and severity of Prostate Cancer is greater in black men than in white men in the United States. There are intrinsic biological differences that account for the differences in disease development and progression, but these differences are under-studied. Socially, cultural beliefs, as well as, inherent biases and systemic racism contribute to disparities in diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis of prostate cancer in black men on the macrolevel. However, at the biomedical and microlevel, an under appreciation or lack of awareness of the significance of ethnic and racial biological differences has resulted in inadequate diversity in bio-specimens and cell-line models in in vitro research.

Precision medicine is a growing field of interest in the treatment of diseases like cancer, where medicine and therapeutic intervention is tailored to the individuals genotype. However, with that, it is necessary to examine how ethnicity and race influence pathogenesis and progression of a disease, as well as, responsiveness to therapeutic intervention. Currently, the majority of biological samples that are collected from patients are collected from those who are classified as white or of European ancestry. Continue reading

Fetal Bovine Serum Price Increase Impacts Research and Development

The price of Fetal Bovine Serum (FBS) has drastically increased! At my university, we typically requested FBS from a large in-house supply purchased wholesale from an external source. One reason for this was to maintain consistency, as fetal bovine serum tends to vary from batch to batch. However, purchasing this way kept cost down ­– one half liter bottle of FBS could run around 500 dollars. Recently, the department sent out a notification that each lab would no longer be able to obtain a bottle of FBS, without it counting against its weekly budget. Going forward, 200 dollars will be deducted, reducing the overall funds available for the weekly purchase of other lab supplies.

Yesterday, I asked the Chairman’s secretary why this change had been made. She only knew that the price had gone up exponentially, but not why. So, I decided to do some investigatory work of my own. People often don’t understand that research is very expensive and time consuming work. An increase in the cost of supplies, means a decrease in how far the budget can be stretched, and an increase in the time it takes to get in essential supplies. Continue reading

Cell Culture: Preparing mammalian cells for storage

I have been working in vitro with monocyte cells for the past few months. I was fortunate to receive a flask of already cultured cells from a neighboring lab – fortunate because my lab did not have to pay to procure them. However, that meant I did not have a stock supply or a back-up  of the cell-line. Once you start working with cells, they have to be maintained at least every 2 to 3 days. There are only two of us currently working in my lab, so that means if I am away from the lab for an extended period of time I will have to freeze down aliquots of the cells for storage. This should be done with every cell-line you work with for the sake of continuity, amongst other reasons. Cell-lines age as you continue to work with them, and in time may begin to change in characteristics.

The process is slow but simple. Below is a brief description of how it’s done: Continue reading