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Culture Collection News

Unique melanoma cell lines available from ECACC – The FM series

Melanoma, a type of skin cancer originating from melanocytes, emphasises the importance of early detection and intervention. Surgery is often successful for treating superficial melanomas. The FM series, derived from metastatic cutaneous malignant melanoma, is a crucial component of the ESTDAB project, providing essential data on HLA genotypes, tumour antigens, and more

December 2023

The NCTC3000 project reaches a milestone

Here, Jo Dicks, Culture Collections' lead bioinformatician, introduces her recent paper on the NCTC3000 project, the resulting sequence read datasets, genome assemblies and annotations as a unique, historically and scientifically relevant resource for the benefit of the international bacterial research community.

November 2023

Women scientists in ECACC

ECACC has always had a strong female representation in its scientific and technical staff. We asked two ECACC scientists, Debbie Scammell (Specialist Cell Culture Scientist) and Simone Lilley (New Accessions - Lead Scientist), about thier roles and what inspired them to choose a career in science.

December 2023

NCPV New Strains 2022

This year NCPV have focussed on gathering deposits of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern. Read about the new strains added to the collection in 2022.

December 2023


Earlier this year, in April 2022, monkeypox virus (MPXV) was isolated from UK clinical samples. This was the start of the largest outbreak of monkeypox in the UK to date. 

December 2023

NCTC new bacterial strains 2021

NCTC is currently in its 103rd year of operation and holds approximately 6,000 bacterial reference and type strains, many of which are of medical and veterinary importance. Each year, bacterial strains are added to the collection by those who wish to share strains. 

December 2023

iPSC cell culture training

Human iPSCs have the potential to revolutionise in vitro life science research. The techniques for iPSC growth and quality control are highly specialised and it is therefore important that the ECACC team is provided with comprehensive and up-to-date training in these procedures to enable the maintenance of our iPSC portfolio.

December 2023

Dead or alive? Long-term viability testing at NCTC

Freeze-drying (also known as lyophilisation) is an extremely efficient method for long-term preservation of bacterial cultures. However, bacterial cultures will not survive in this state forever, and over time the viability of cultures will decrease. For this reason, NCTC carry out frequent viability testing on freeze-dried cultures.

December 2023

Did you join our webinar?

If you didn't catch our webinar 'Introduction to the National Collection of Type Cultures (NCTC) genomic datasets: A Staphylococcus aureus case study' you can now access the recording online.



December 2023


TwinsUK is a national cohort study examining the impact of environment and genomics on health across the adult life course, with particular strengths in healthy ageing and age-related disease.

December 2023

The '293' cell line in action: virology research

Recently, scientists from the National Collection of Pathogenic Viruses (NCPV) used the 293 cell line as a host to express human Adenovirus 5 (NCPV 0011055v) in cell culture systems whilst exploring the effect of adenovirus infection on cell morphology.

December 2023

A case of best practice

The most common causes of failure in a Tissue Culture lab are death of cultures, microbial or viral contamination and cross-contamination or misidentification.

December 2023

Year in review: 2021

2021 was a very busy year for NCTC, the world’s oldest bacterial strain collection. The NCTC team have continued to develop the collection but they have also had the opportunity to support the national COVID-19 response.

December 2023

Qualifications in The Carriage of Diagnostic & Infectious Substances by Air & Road

The infectious substances supplied by NCPV are classed by the United Nations as “Dangerous Goods”. As such, our products are subject to strict regulations on their transport across the globe. Whether these are moved by road, sea, or air, sending infectious substances requires a detailed understanding on incompatible items, safe packaging, classification, and labelling arrangements.

December 2023

Working at Containment Level Three

NCTC holds a collection of approximately 700 restricted pathogens. These include Advisory Committee on Dangerous Pathogens (ACDP) hazard group three bacteria, animal pathogens, and hazard group two organisms that pose a greater risk to the operator during the manufacturing process.

December 2023

NCTC video from the ECCO XXXIX. Virtual Meeting 2021

The National Collection of Type Cultures, NCTC, was pleased to host the 39th Annual Meeting of the European Culture Collections’ Organisation (ECCO) which for the first time in its history was held online. 


October 2021

ECCO XXXIX. Music performed by Ensemble Renard

This year's ECCO annual meeting is a virtual event, but we don't want you to miss out on the enternaiment side of face to face meetings. We are pleased to present music performed by Ensemble Renard which will be able to view throughout the event. 

September 2021

ECCO XXXIX. Sponsors

We would like to thank the sponsors for their support of the following sessions and the poster and oral presentation prizes at ECCO XXXIX.

November 2021

Staphylococcal enterotoxins in NCTC strains

Around 20-30% of humans – along with many of our companion and livestock animals - are estimated to be long-term carriers of the Gram-positive bacterium Staphylococcus aureus, which in humans colonises the skin, nostrils and gastrointestinal tract.

August 2021

Diversity within the chicken gut

Metagenomic and culture-based analyses provide new insights into the bacterial, archaeal and bacteriophage components of the chicken gut microbiome. This dataset expands known diversity of the chicken gut microbiome, providing a key resource for future taxonomic and functional chicken gut research.

August 2021

NCPV Supporting Research

Recent studies from 2021 demonstrate ways in which NCPV viruses can be used in research. Our viruses can be used to fulfil various roles; for example, as the main organism under investigation, as substitute viruses to replace those that require handling at high containment, or as a means of testing sensitivity and specificity in the development and evaluation of diagnostics assays. 

June 2021

A-Z of NCTC Strains

The NCTC collection contains a diverse range of over 6300 bacterial type, reference and control strains. In this series we will review some of the lesser well-known strains within the collection, starting with the first and last strains in the A-Z of the NCTC; Abiotrophia adiacens and Zymomonas mobilis.

July 2021

Echovirus (echovirus, echovirus...)

“Enteric cytopathogenic human orphan viruses” (echoviruses) are a group of related enteroviruses (family: Picornaviridae; genus Enterovirus B) commonly found in the human gastro-intestinal tract.

January 2021

Five NCTC strains used in proficiency testing with aberrant characteristics

The Food and Environmental Proficiency Testing Unit is responsible for external quality assessment schemes where known but undisclosed samples are introduced into a lab’s routine testing procedure. This has many benefits including improving the standard of examinations, demonstrating to a commitment to quality and identifying any problems.

November 2020

Seasonal human coronaviruses – the forgotten relatives of famous viruses?

In the last 20 years, three novel coronaviruses have emerged resulting in significant morbidity and mortality. While our recent experiences with SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 paint the picture of coronaviruses as an extreme threat to human health, the four other coronaviruses known to infect humans typically result in the ‘the common cold’. 

October 2020

New UK SMI syndromic documents to be published soon

UK Standards for Microbiology Investigations (UK SMIs) are a comprehensive referenced collection of recommended algorithms and procedures for clinical microbiology. S7 – Gastroenteritis is the first of a new series of UK SMIs to be published under the new syndromic framework

January 2020

NCTC zoonotic pathogens: Shiga-toxic Escherichia coli reference strains

Escherichia coli is a common commensal organism found in the intestine of warm-blooded organisms. Some variants of Escherichia coli can cause severe disease, some of which are divided into pathotypes based on their gene content, interaction with host cells and associated pathologies

January 2020

Supporting veterinary microbiology: From chickens to chinchillas

NCTC is the worlds oldest bacterial strain collection and it is widely known that it provides authenticated clinical strains to support medical microbiologists and scientists. However, one of NCTCs lesser known functions is that it also houses alongside its medically relevant strains a number of strains of veterinary significance which have been sourced from animals over the last one hundred years

January 2020
293  cells

Sticky Issues with 293 Cells

Understanding the biology and limitations of 293, a widely used and genetically unstable cell line, is key to its successful cell culture. The cells have a unique actin cytoskelton compared to other cell lines, and they are loosely adherent so will detach if cultures are exposed to temperatures below 30°C

January 2021
Typewrite with paper showing the words review

ECACC: A review of 2020

We started 2020 with a shutdown of our ultra-low temperature storage (ULTS) facility, resulting in a suspension of all order dispatch. The coronavirus pandemic had begun to sweep the world and by April, we had to suspend all non-essential and non-COVID related activities

February 2021

NCTC: A year in review

Last year was a hugely significant and memorable year for the National Collection of Type Cultures. On 1st January the collection entered its centenary year, a year which has proven to be more eventful and challenging than was originally expected

February 2021
Ebola virus

NCPV in research 2020

NCPV viruses are used within research both as the subject of investigation and also as positive controls. This article highlights several papers published in 2020 which include the use of NCPV strains

December 2023

Cell culture and QRT PCR Gene Expression

Gene expression analysis by QRT-PCR is a powerful and commonly used technique that requires good cell culture and molecular biology methodology to achieve optimal results.

February 2021
chikungunya in vero cells

Using cell lines for arbovirus research

The NCPV catalogue contains many viruses, including numerous under-researched, emerging and re-emerging arboviruses. Several of these have the potential to cause a significant burden of human diseases in the future should events occur that increase human-reservoir/vector interactions such as alterations in climatic conditions.

July 2020
Gp5d cell line

Unique cell lines: GP2d and GP5d

ECACC has a number of unique human cell lines not available from any other culture collection. This collection contains cell lines representing several different diseases, hybridomas, HLA-typed panels and a series of transformed lymphoblastoid cell lines representing human random controls.

July 2020

Investigating the role of cryptic prophages within their bacterial hosts: NCTC new accessions

Recently, NCTC placed into its collection some genetically-modified strains of K-12 E. coli (NCTC 14365 -14374) derived from the wild-type strain NCTC 14364. These have been used in a very interesting study by Wang et al., (2010) who in their paper sought to prove that cryptic prophages rather than being passive genetic cargo of the bacterial genome, actively help the cell respond to various environmental stresses.

June 2020

Herpes Simplex Virus 1

Herpes Simplex Virus 1 (Family: Herpesviridae; Genus: Simplexvirus; Species: Human alphaherpesvirus 1) also known as Human herpesvirus 1 (HHV-1) is one of eight herpesviruses (including Cytomegalovirus and Epstein-Barr virus) that typically infect humans.

April 2020
Mycoplasma composite image

The Mollicute repository

Mollicutes are a class of bacteria that are characterised by their absence of a cell wall and the appearance of fried-egg shaped colonies when grown on agar. They have evolved by a process of selective reduction from gram positive bacteria and they are they are the smallest free-living prokaryotes.

April 2020
Mycoplasma procyoni cells

What's new in Mollicutes?

17 novel strains isolated from animals have been deposited into the NCTC collection by the US Food and Drug Administration Research Laboratory. The strains include novel species of the genus Mycoplasma, Acholeplasma and Ureaplasma.

April 2020

'AuthentiCell' brand coming soon...

"AuthentiCell” is a new family of services from the European Collection of Authenticated Cell Cultures (ECACC), encompassing Short Tandem Repeat (STR) profiling and a new public STR Profile database, to provide customers with accurate, reliable, and rapid human cell line authentication

April 2020
Neural pathways in green

iPSCs revolution in neurodiseases modelling

iPSC-based models offer researchers the possibility to develop a more in-depth understanding of the pathological mechanisms involved in human diseases, especially neurological diseases.

April 2020

Happy 100th birthday to NCTC

NCTC has been in operation for 100 years, surviving a world war, six relocations and acute financial hardship. Nevertheless, the collection is thriving and making a significant contribution to our understanding of 21st century infectious diseases and how to overcome them.

January 2020
mosquito close up

California Serogroup Viruses

California Serogroup Viruses are a collection of genetically related but serologically distinct arboviruses (Family: Peribunyaviridae; Genus: Orthobunyavirus) transmitted between susceptible mammalian species through the bite of an infected mosquito.

January 2020

Respiratory syncytial virus

Human respiratory syncytial virus (HRSV) is one of many viruses responsible for mild cold-like symptoms in humans. Although most infections last for about a week or two, more serious complications such as bronchiolitis and pneumonia can occur in infants and older people.

January 2020

Anglo-Antipodean Partnership and product release of SIRMu-1

ECACC is a dynamic culture collection and our Scientific Development Group are constantly searching for and accessioning new cell lines. One of our newest acquisitions, SIRMu-1, was kindly shared with us by our colleagues at Cell Bank Australia.

January 2020
Close up of the 'plague' dress by Anna Dimitriu

Latest news from NCTC Artist in Residence Anna Dumitriu

Anna Dumitriu is continuing her collaboration as Artist in Residence with the National Collection of Type Cultures (NCTC) and currently developing a series of new works based on historically important bacteria in the collection.

December 2019

2019 UK Biobank of the Year Award for MND Association

Congratulations to the MND Association for being awarded the prestigious accolade of 2019 UK Biobank of the Year Award. The award recognises the MND Association’s work on the UK MND Collections, a bank of biological samples collected from people living with MND and controls between 2003 and 2012, when the MND Association collected over 3,000 blood samples from people with MND, their families and spouse controls.

January 2020

Cell lines aiding virology research

Some of the most significant catastrophes in human history have been caused by infectious diseases. The 1918 influenza pandemic, is thought to be accountable for over 50 million deaths, and is arguably one of the most devastating outbreaks of the early 20th century.

January 2020

Looking backward to move forward

Many pathogens that caused devastating disease throughout human history, such as Yersinia pestis, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and Mycobacterium leprae, remain problematic today. Historical bacterial genomes represent a unique source of genetic information and advancements in sequencing technologies have allowed unprecedented insights from this previously understudied resource.

January 2020

NCTC scientists inspiring the future

The scientists and support staff in the National Collection of Type Cultures, NCTC, are driven and passionate about what we do. We are continuously fascinated by the strains in the collection; those with a rich history and the new emerging pathogens. We are always keen to take an opportunity to talk about the collection, microbiology and how we started our career journey.

January 2020

NCPV in research 2018

The National Collection of Pathogenic Viruses (NCPV) preserves a wide range of well characterised, authenticated human pathogenic viruses in a secure facility, and supplies viruses, or nucleic acids derived from them, to the scientific community according to national and international guides.

January 2020

Epstein-Barr Virus profile

Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), also known as Human Herpesvirus 4 or Human gammaherpesvirus 4, is one of the most widespread human viruses. EBV belongs to the Herpesviridae family of enveloped DNA viruses which includes eight distinct human pathogens responsible for diseases that range from almost asymptomatic to severe and life-threatening2.

January 2020

The importance of immortalising the bacteriophage

Bacteriophages or phages, have been attracting increasing levels of attention from both scientists and the mainstream media in recent years. This is due to their potential role in the treatment of bacterial infections (phage therapy).

January 2020

Inkoo Virus now added to NCPV's collection

Inkoo virus is one of ten mosquito-borne viruses known to be pathogenic to humans within Europe. The virus belongs to the family Peribunyaviridae, genus Orthobunyavirus. Research suggests it is mainly asymptomatic but can cause diseases. Inkoo virus has recently been added to our catalogue as 1308255v.

January 2020

Using cell lines in Virology

The development and production of vaccines requires large quantities of viruses or bacteria. Bacteria are easily cultured, providing they have a suitable growth medium and conditions. However, viruses infect living cells in order to replicate; resulting in difficulties for laboratories.

January 2020

Importance of External Quality Assurance

UK NEQAS is an independent non-profit organisation with nearly 50 years’ experience in the provision of EQA to clinical laboratories. EQA is an educational tool that enables participants to examine, monitor and improve their own laboratory performance. 

January 2020

Exploring the pathology of less prominent species

There are approximately 200 validly described species in the genus Clostridium. Among them are multiple human and animal pathogens. Naturally, the genus also contains species whose pathogenic potential and clinical significance remains understudied. 

January 2020

NCTC and the science of small silverware

Biomedical research teams use microorganisms to understand the properties of microscopic particles. It is clear that scientists are using bacterial pathogens from the National Collection of Type Cultures (NCTC) to test a range of applications of nanoparticles in fighting infectious diseases. This was demonstrated after NCTC curators reviewed up to 100 studies published in 2018 to keep abreast of the value and uses of the collection in the wider scientific community.

January 2020

U-2 OS Cell Line Profile

U-2 OS is one of the earliest described cancer derived cell lines obtained from a moderately differentiated bone. Recently, the cell line has shown itself to be useful as a successful transfection host. This combined with absence of any detectable adenovirus infection makes the cell line a useful expression platform in virology.

January 2020

The NCPV - 20 years of serving the virology community

The National Collection of Pathogenic Viruses was established in 1999, with funding from the Wellcome Trust, for the benefit of developing and testing of vaccines and antiviral compounds. Our remit is to identify, preserve and provide relevant pathogenic viruses for the scientific community. 

January 2020

Rare Salmonella serotype deposited into the NCTC

Earlier this year, scientists from Public Health England’s Gastrointestinal Bacteria Reference Unit and collaborators described the first known outbreak of Salmonella Adjame which occurred in 2017 in London, UK. The strains are now deposited in our collection as NCTC 14246, NCTC 14247 and NCTC 14248.

January 2020

CO2 concentration and pH control in the cell culture laboratory

Most cell culture laboratories will have a humidified Carbon Dioxide (CO2) incubator set to 5% CO2, however it is not always obvious why our cultures need this amount of CO2 nor what the acceptable tolerances are for the ranges in CO2 concentration.

January 2020

UK Biological Resource Centre Network

Culture Collections holds four of the biological resource centres (BRCs) that make up the UK Biological Resource Centre Network (UKBRCN). The network meets annually and this year’s meeting was held at the National Collection of Industrial, Food and Marine Bacteria (NCIMB) in Aberdeen, Scotland.

January 2020

NCTC: Public Engagement in 2016

Hannah McGregor, Quality Control Supervisor at NCTC, tells us about her public engagement activities in 2016.

I am very lucky to work for NCTC - not only because I work with some extraordinary and historical bacteria on a daily basis, but I get the opportunity to share my passion for microbiology with members of the public and potential future scientists.

January 2020

NCTC: New bacterial strains in 2016

We made a record number of bacterial strains available from the NCTC online catalogue in 2016. In total, 98 strains from 20 families were added , a quarter of which were Type strains. Many were included in the NCTC_3000 whole genome sequencing project under taken with the Sanger Institute and PacBio.

January 2020

NCTC in research: Rapid detection method for Salmonella species in animal feed

Salmonella infection is a major global cause of foodborne diseaseand is frequently transmitted as a result of the consumption of contaminated foods of animal origin; contamination in animal feed is known to be a contributing factor. Rapid methods for identifying Salmonella-free samples are being developed which have the potential to reduce the turnaround time for negative results from three to two days.

January 2020

Type Strains – the most important strains in NCTC?

Approximately one fifth of the bacteria in NCTC are cultures of type strains, which are the strains on which the description of a species is based.  A bacterial species invariably includes multiple strains that are of common origin and show more similarity to each other than to any other strain. We could consider the type strains to be the most important strains in NCTC because they are the points of reference that other strains must be compared with when determining which species they belong to.

January 2020

NCTC and International Women's Day 2017

International Women's Day 2017 Historically women have experienced greater barriers to the same opportunities afforded to men and hostility from the scientific establishment (among others), breeding a range of problems. For the first time in its history the majority of the National Collection of Type Cultures’ (NCTC) senior scientists and curators are women. We pay tribute to the women who shaped and contributed to one of the world’s oldest working bacterial collections as it exists today.

January 2020

Lyophilisation: Long-term storage for bacterial strains

Lyophilisation, also known as freeze-drying, is a preservation method achieved through dehydration. The process was developed initially in 1906 and the technique currently applied by NCTC is an adaptation of the method used during World War II to preserve and transport blood serum. 

January 2020

Murray, microbes, and me by Kate Baker

Murray, microbes, and me - The life of the microbiologist and clinician Professor Everitt Murray is the focus of a recent article in The Microbiology Society’s publication Microbial Genomics. The article by Kate Baker charts Murray’s career and involvement with NCTC.

January 2020

Hazard Group 3 bacteria in the NCTC collection

Hazard Group 3 bacteria in the NCTC collection In the UK, biological agents are classified into four Hazard Groups (HG1-4). Similar categorisations of biological agents are also seen in other parts of the world. The majority of bacteria within the NCTC collection fall within the HG2 category, however the collection also holds over 500 strains of HG3 bacteria.

January 2020

NCTC: a dynamic collection with bla bla bla…....

NCTC must endure as a dynamic collection of bacteria, accessible and significant to the biomedical scientific community. With this objective in mind we have recently added five new strains that can be used as positive controls for detecting beta-lactamase genes.

January 2020

NCTC Mycobacteria strains in research

Many researchers use NCTC strains during the development, evaluation and validation of laboratory methods.  A team at Queen’s University, Belfast, UK, used six NCTC Mycobacteria strains to evaluate an optimised peptide-mediated magnetic separation (PMS)-phage assay for the rapid detection in milk of viable Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (MAP). This is particularly important for veterinary microbiology because MAP causes Johne’s disease (JD), a chronic enteric wasting disease that affects domestic ruminants.

January 2020

Global supply of healthcare products: the Mycobacterium chimaera challenge

NCTC is working to provide authenticated reference strains of Mycobacterium chimaera. The type strain is now available as NCTC 13781.Until fairly recently M.chimaera was a low profile microorganism in the sphere of human infection. However, this changed in 2014 when six cases of severe infection were reported in cardiac surgery patients in Zurich. 


January 2020

Animals, Vegetables, Minerals and NCTC bacteria

A first glance through the 2017 publications citing NCTC bacteria reveals a fascinating insight into the reference strains’ continued importance in emerging microbial developments. Recent focus on microbiomes has changed ideas about the role of microorganisms in human and animal health and disease, and antimicrobial resistance remains a global challenge.

January 2020

Equivalence with bacterial reference strains

Thousands of living species are newly described every year and in the microbial world the tree of life is expanding dramatically due to the identification of previously unknown lineages through genome analysis.  For bacteria, the first isolate of a confirmed new species, the type strain, must be deposited within two internationally recognised culture collections

January 2020

PHE celebrates the 100th Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS) placement student

In August 2017 Eleanor Hill, became the 100th placement student within Public Health (PHE) to complete the Registration Training Portfolio for the IBMS Certificate of Competence. Eleanor, Biomedical Science undergraduate from De Montfort University, spent a year in the NCTC laboratory gaining experience in microbiological techniques and working in a professional setting in addition to working towards the Portfolio.

January 2020

NCTC: We can’t be experts in everything – so can you contribute?

From Abiotrophia adiacens to Zymomonas mobilis, NCTC  microbiologists work with nearly 6000 bacterial strains from more than 900 distinct species in at least 83 different families. The methods used to authenticate the strains ranges from simple microscopy to whole genome sequencing.

January 2020

NCTC and Antimicrobial Medicine : Past, present and future

The 18th of November marked European Antibiotic Awareness Day. NCTC has a proud history of supporting the development of antimicrobial medicine and continues to provide biological materials used in the harmonized measurement of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and bio-resources for modern AMR research.

January 2020

Implementation of the Nagoya Protocol in the UK: An update

Life science research and microbiological diagnostics rely on access to global genetic resources.  In 2014, the Nagoya Protocol came into force. It aims to provide a framework for legal clarity to be achieved for providers and users of genetic resources regarding fair access and sharing of any benefits arising from use.

January 2020

Blood, sweat and sequencing – NCTC in 2017

A collaborative study by researchers in Thailand and the UK identified a novel antibacterial peptide derived from Crocodylus siamensis haemoglobin that causes bacterial death. 

January 2020

Anaerobes for research

Within NCTC, great care is taken when authenticating all bacteria within the collection. Fastidious anaerobes pose a unique challenge.

January 2020

Authenticating Anaerobes

Within NCTC, great care is taken when authenticating all bacteria within the collection. Fastidious anaerobes pose a unique challenge.

January 2020

The Rise and Rise of BacteriophagesReferences

Read our update on NCTC 3000 the collaborative bacterial Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) project between Public Health England (PHE), Pacific BioSciences (PacBio) and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute (WTSI).

January 2020

Research in focus: Hyper virulent Klebsiella pneumoniae

Classical Klebsiella pneumoniae infection is thought of as causing opportunistic respiratory tract, urinary tract and healthcare associated infections. It is the most clinically relevant species in the genus Klebsiella and as with many other members of the family Enterobacteriaceae, both established and emerging antimicrobial resistant lineages have led to an increase in morbidity and mortality due to infection from these bacteria.

January 2020

NCTC welcomes Anna Dumitriu as artist in residence

Pioneering BioArtist Anna Dumitriu has joined NCTC as artist in residence and will be exploring the extensive collection to develop artworks inspired by and incorporating NCTCs historic microbes. Anna is internationally renowned for her artwork that brings together history, biology and cutting edge new technologies. Her aim is to draw out some fascinating stories from the collection and create new works which raise awareness of NCTC and how new technologies, such as whole genome sequencing are revealing new insights into infectious diseases. These works will be exhibited to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the collection in 2020.

January 2020

Dr. Muriel Robertson FRS (1883-1973) for the new £50 design

The National Collection of Type Cultures would like to nominate Dr. Muriel Robertson (1883-1973), a prolific parasitologist, bacteriologist and immunologist, to feature on the Bank of England’s new £50 note design. Dr. Robertson is now most well-known for her work on elucidating the complex life cycles of trypanosomes; pathogenic unicellular eukaryotes that can cause disease in animal and human hosts.

January 2020

PHE’s Next Generation Sequencing Service validates NCTC10538 E. coli K12 DNA as a sequencing control

The Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) service at Public Health England is an ISO15189 accredited facility. The team have sequenced over 100,000 microbial genomes since its conception using Illumina HiSeq 2500 and MiSeq high-throughput technologies. The service processes positive and negative controls on every bacterial and viral sequencing run as part of their internal quality control system. The positive control used is E.coli K12 DNA which has to generate ≥150Mb of trimmed fastQ data with a quality (Q) score of >30 and a >99% sequence similarity to E. coli K12 for the run to pass.

January 2020

NCTC’s partner in Beijing

It’s always exciting for NCTC microbiologists to visit other Culture Collections and a recent opportunity to drop in on the China Center of Industrial Culture Collection(CICC)was no exception.

January 2020

NCTC: the national collection supporting global health

NCTC are proud to support the partnership between the PHE International Health Regulation (IHR) Strengthening project and Nigeria’s Centre for Disease Control (NCDC​). The programme in Nigeria is part of the PHE IHR Strengthening project to support national public health institutes in five countries.

January 2020

NCTC bacteriophage collection and repository

The National Collection of Type Cultures (NCTC) is the world’s oldest bacterial collection that was specifically established to provide strains globally to support scientific research. In addition to the general catalogue NCTC has a fully curated bacteriophage archive that has not recently been available to the wider scientific community. The NCTC bacteriophage collection consists of over 100 bacteriophage and their corresponding bacterial hosts which were originally deposited for their value in bacterial typing. The collection consists of bacteriophage from the following hosts: Streptococcus agalactiae, Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli and Campylobacter.

January 2020

NCPV’s global impact in 2016: Zika virus and beyond

During 2016 NCPV was at the forefront of the global response to the outbreak of Zika virus that has affected people in up to 70 countries across South America, the Caribbean and the Western Pacific Region since October 2013. We supplied live Zika virus strains or RNA from NCPV Zika strains to 50 different groups of scientists in 16 countries. NCPV also made publically available the first Zika virus strain with extensive genome sequence data isolated from a semen sample

January 2020

Yellow Fever – a persisting pathogen

Yellow fever virus is an arbovirus of the Flaviviridae family, pathogenic to humans, and transmitted by mosquitoes (Aedes and Haemogogus species). It is endemic in tropical areas of Africa and South America and although vaccination is available, take-up is low in some endemic areas. In 2015/2016 a large outbreak occurred in Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and in Brazil this year, 47 cases have been confirmed and there have been 45 deaths.

January 2017

NCPV Brochure

You can now learn about the authenticated viral strains and services provided by the National Collection of Pathogenic Viruses (NCPV) in our new brochure. The brochure helps virologists and quality control scientists understand the range of viral strains relevant to human health that are available from NCPV, their applications and the benefits of depositing their own viral strains in the collection. 


January 2020

Mumps: A jaw titan

NCPV has recenetly added a number of Mumps virus strains of differing genotypes to the collection. Earlier this year a Canadian news channel reported that five Canadian ice hockey players had been side-lined due to mumps. One player’s jaw was so swollen that he assumed it was broken. In the UK mumps is a notifiable infection and high profile outbreaks are often associated with festivals and certain high risk populations.

January 2020

Are you starting a PhD in microbiology?

Get your research off to the best start. Don’t lose precious time trouble-shooting reagents. By obtaining biological materials from the Culture Collections of Public Health England, you can move straight to addressing the exciting questions. 

January 2020

From Antivirals to Zika: NCPV in 2017

A study by researchers based in the UK and US used an NCPV strain of human rhinovirus (HRV strain 1B) to demonstrate a potential role for cathelicins as part of a therapeutic strategy for rhinovirus infection. 

January 2020

Chikungunya virus

Chikungunya virus causes a painful, crippling disease, and is transmitted by infected mosquitoes. The name is derived from a native language of Tanzania, and refers to the stooped, contorted appearance of sufferers with severe joint pain.

January 2020

Viral Nucleic Acids

Viruses contain nucleic acid as RNA or DNA. These molecules possess all the genetic information of the virus. Research involving the use of viral nucleic acid products, are becoming increasing popular.

January 2020

NCPV 500: An Electronic Resource for Mining Viral Genomes

NCPV 500 is collaboration between Public Health England and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute (WTSI) to produce 500 viral genomes from PHE’s National Collection of Pathogenic Viruses (NCPV) using the Illumina sequencing platform. The NCPV 500 project will provide Whole Genome sequencing data for each strain within the NCPV collection and is a vital step forward for in-depth strain characterisation. Additionally the sequencing of multiple isolates, strains or species enables understanding of the factors responsible for varying virulence using comparative genomics.

January 2020

Usutu virus: A new addition to the NCPV catalogue

Usutu is an old world flavivirus of increasing notoriety. The virus was first isolated in South Africa in 1959 and was named after the Usutu River in Swaziland. The typical Usutu life cycle involves both mosquitos and birds, and infection within mammals remains uncommon.

January 2020


The measles virus is highly contagious and infects millions of individuals worldwide. It causes serious disease in over 10 million children and accounts for about 120,000 deaths each year.

January 2020

Arboviruses available from NCPV

Arborvirus new leaflet download Several emerging and re-emerging neglected diseases and zoonoses (infections that can pass between animals and humans) are caused by arboviruses, with vaccines available for only a few of these infections.

January 2020

Buffalo Pox

In 2005, pustular lesions were noticed on the foot of a burns patient in Karachi, Pakistan. Similar lesions subsequently appeared on at least 19 other patients in the city’s burns units. As part of the investigation into the infection, biopsies were sent to Public Health England Porton for specialist testing.

January 2020

Herpes simplex virus type 1 panel

Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1; species name Human alphaherpesvirus 1) is best known as the causative agent of cold sores; blisters that appear on the lips or face. Although only occasionally causing symptoms, the infection itself lasts for life. However, this virus is not limited to causing what many may consider an irritating but relatively mild condition.

January 2020

Call for Research Applications to the PHE-MOHS Ebola Biobank

During the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone in 2014-15, residual clinical specimens and accompanying data were collected from routine diagnostic testing in Public Health England (PHE) led laboratories. The samples with all the accompanying data were transferred to PHE laboratories in the UK for curation by PHE.  The biobank holds approximately 9955 samples of which 1108 are positive for Ebola.    

January 2020

New NCPV viruses in 2018

In 2018, eight new virus strains from five families were made available through the NCPV online catalogue. Three of these were Human adenovirus species D, the rest were Adenovirus 8, Chikungunya virus, Poxvirus Pakistan, Epstein-Barr virus and Usutu virus. All eight strains are listed on the new viral strains page on the website. More strains will be added to the page as they become available, such as Inkoo virus, a mosquito-borne virus belonging to the Bunyaviridae family, which will be available soon.

January 2020

How culture collections can assist responses to emerging disease

Diagnosis of viral infections is often achieved by testing clinical samples using molecular methods such as PCR and sequencing, or serology to detect circulating antibodies. Although these methods are relatively fast, inexpensive, and straightforward, they are targeted to specific pathogens, and can miss unexpected causes.

January 2019

UK SMI: New HEV screening document

First documented in 1955, Hepatitis E virus (HEV) is increasingly common in the UK with an excess of 100,000 infections estimated to occur annually in England of which a minority, less than 1% are associated with clinically apparent disease. Although HEV often causes an acute and self-limiting infection, it has the potential of developing into a chronic infection in immunosuppressed hosts. The clinical presentation of acute symptomatic hepatitis E infection cannot be distinguished from that of any other viral hepatitis. Although epidemiological features may suggest HEV infection in some cases, laboratory tests should always be performed to confirm any clinical diagnosis.

January 2020

NCPF in research: Phaeohyphomycosis cyst associated with Medicopsis romeroi infection

NCPF in Research: Phaeohyphomycosis cyst associated with M. romeroi infection. Typically these phaeohyphomycocis infections are caused by fungal species such as Exophiala, Alternaria, Cladophialophora, Phialophora or Curvularia/Bipolaris species. Medicopsis species has also been implicated.  This case study reports the occurrence of an infection at an intravenus cannula site.

January 2020

NCPF in research: New species responsible for black grain mycetoma identified

NCPF in research: A new species responsible for black grain mycetoma has been identified. Phylogenetic analyses of 31 isolates that were historically classified as Madurella greisea has given rise to the identification of a new species. The clinical isolates from two international collections were all associated with cases of black-grain mycetoma infection in humans.

January 2020

Identification of a new fungal species: Exophiala campbellii

Exophiala campbellii: a new fungal species. The Mycology Reference Laboratory recently undertook a study of Exophiala species contained within the NCPF collection to see they could distinguish between them using MALDI-ToF technology. Read Dr Elizabeth Johnson’s account of how this investigation led to the identification of a new species.

January 2020

NCPF in research: MALDI-ToF mass spectrometry for the identification of eumycetoma agents and related fungi

NCPF in research: MALDI-ToF mass spectrometry for the identification of eumycetoma agents and related fungi The PHE Mycology Reference Laboratory (MRL) has undertaken studies relating to fungi that cause black grain mycetoma. Black grain eumycetoma is a chronic fungal infection and many different fungal species are known to cause it including Madurella species, Falciformispora species and Trematosphaeria grisea.

January 2020

The Aspergillus fumigatus genome-wide knockout collection

On the 1st January 2018 a team led by Dr Mike Bromley at the University of Manchester embarked on a Wellcome Trust funded project named COFUN that aims to generate knockout mutants for all of the coding genes in the human pathogen Aspergillus fumigatus.

January 2020

ECACC: A Dynamic Culture Collection for Disease Research

ECACC is a dynamic cell culture collection that has an active programme to acquire new cell lines. The collection currently holds cell lines representing 45 different species, 50 tissue types, 300 Human Leucocyte Antigen (HLA) types and 450 monoclonal antibodies.  ECACC's collections include large genetic cohort collections such as the Motor Neurone Disease (MND) collection, chromosome abnormality and human random control cell lines, as well as over 1500 human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). 

January 2020

Ian Freshney Tribute

Dr. R Ian Freshney passed away on 6 January 2019. He was a distinguished scientist and will be much missed by the cell culture community.

January 2020

Advances in molecular pathology: Cell line authentication

Advances in Molecular Pathology, a new Elsevier journal, was launched earlier this month. The first volume of this annual review publication contains 21 articles covering current practices in molecular pathology and new developments in the field. Topic areas include genetics, infectious disease, pharmacogenomics, informatics, and identity/HLA.

January 2020

Calling all Technology Transfer Offices

Calling all Technology Transfer Offices New and modified cell lines generated by universities and not for profit organisations are key in enabling ECACC to expand and keep its cell line collections relevant to the current needs of life science research. Working closely together has provided many benefits for both partners

January 2020

Webinar Growing Pains: Cell Culture Challenges and Best Practices

Free webinar - Growing Pains: Cell Culture Challenges and Best Practices This webinar covered several topics including standardisation of training, steps for improving reproducibility of culture setup and maintenance, the importance of authenticating cell lines and the challenges posed by novel cell culture systems such as iPSC, organoids and complex 3D cell culture.

January 2020

Applying good cell culture practice to novel systems

Applying good cell culture practice to novel systems The emergence of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC), organoids and complex 3D cell culture offer huge potential for increasingly physiologically relevant in vitro models but also offer a novel set of challenges for the implementation of good cell culture practice

January 2020

Roland Nardone – Pioneer in the field of cell line authentication

We were sorry to learn that Dr Roland Nardone passed away on 20th June 2018. Roland had a distinguished career in research and teaching for over 50 years. His passion for teaching led him to establish two organisations for training for biomedical research scientists. About 17,000 students have already benefited from the Centre for Advanced Training in Cell and Molecular Biology and The Bio-Trac Training Programme.

January 2020

100 tiny steps – ECACC in research in 2017

Microwaves have been used with some success as cancer therapy; scientists in Japan used an ECACC human breast cancer cell line to provide evidence to support the use normothermic microwave irradiation in clinical cancer treatment; just one example of the role of ECACC cell lines in improving our understanding of non-communicable diseases.

January 2020

Variety and applications of Nucleic Acid products

Genetic researchers are now learning more about how individual genes work and what they do and study the role that variations in genes play in disease. ECACC provides nucleic acids in a range of  formats from its many hundreds of human cell lines to help researchers with their studies.

January 2020

Choosing the correct growth media

In general terms cultured cells require a sterile environment and a supply of nutrients for growth. In addition, the culture environment should be stable in terms of pH and temperature. Over the last 30 years various defined basal media types have been developed and are now available commercially.

January 2020

Optimisation of the cryo-preservation of chick embryo fibroblast cells (CEF)

Chick embryo fibroblasts (CEF) are a useful cellular reagent in virology as they support the growth of many human and animal pathogenic viruses. This study has helped ECACC establish reproducible cell banks of CEF that can be used directly for virus propagation and titration without the need for reverting to primary tissue preparation. 



January 2020

The repercussions of using misidentified cell lines

A recent study published by Horbach and Halffmann (2017) reports on the number of ‘contaminated’ papers in scientific literature in which misidentified cell lines are used. The number of articles referring to misidentified cell lines is still increasing and a ‘fair and reasonable notifications system’ is therefore required to raise awareness of this issue.

January 2020

Informed consent

Informed consent - ensuring clinical samples are obtained ethically Researchers working with biological samples taken from both animals and humans need to know that the material they are working with has been obtained legally, ethically and with due consideration for the wellbeing, privacy and dignity of the donor.

January 2020

Interpretation of STR profiles for human cell line identification

ECACC has recently launched a new service for human cell line authentication by STR profiling. The process is simple and quick; cells are spotted onto an FTA card and sent for analysis by post at ambient temperature. To help researchers understand the STR profile and report, ECCAC have created several resources on STR profile interpretation.

January 2020

Conservation through Cell Culture

Conservation through cell culture ECACC currently supplies  a number of cell lines which were established from species listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna - CITES. Scientists can be reassured that the use of these cell lines means that no additional animals have been taken from the wild, or from captive bred colonies to provide biological samples for research use.

January 2020

Depositing a cell line with ECACC: the strengths of quality control, storage and distribution

Depositing a cell line with ECACC: the strengths of quality control, storage and distribution Cell lines are increasingly critical tools for life science research and as concerns over scientific reproducibility grow, it is essential that they are of known origin, and they are valid in terms of identity, freedom from microbial contamination and function. ECACC maintains secure master and working banks of cryopreserved stocks of the cell lines in its collection.

January 2020

Making cell lines more physiologically relevant for toxicology testing

Making cell lines more physiologically relevant for toxicology testing: how sugar may not help the medicine go down Thanks to their accessibility, ease of use and suitability for high throughput analysis, cancer derived human cell lines are useful laboratory tools for the screening of the effectiveness and toxicology of potential new drugs.  

January 2020

ECACC: Supporting life science research and technology transfer

ECACC: Supporting life science research and technology transfer ECACC has worked closely with UK Research Councils, charities and universities’ Technology Transfer offices to increase the range and relevance of the cell lines available from ECACC for life science research. Working closely with a single contact within a research establishment enables us to fast-track new cell lines into ECACC, making them available for the wider research community as quickly as possible.  

January 2020

10 Years of Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells: From Theory to Accessible Research Tools

10 Years of Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells: From Theory to Accessible Research Tools In 2006 Professor Shinya Yamanaka first presented the work of his team showing that just four transcription factors were required to transform a skin cell into a pluripotent stem cell. This technology is now called reprogramming and the cells generated from its use are termed induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells.

January 2020

Celebrating 30 years of cell culture training at ECACC

Cell culture is a critical tool for biological science research. For over 30 years ECACC has been instrumental in the education of cell culture scientists through its regular and internationally renowned cell culture training courses and it is estimated that over this time around a thousand delegates have received direct training at the hands of ECACC staff. 

January 2020

Cell culture: useful publications and websites

Cell culture: useful websites and publications. There is a growing need for standardisation to enable reproducibility within life science research. As our reliance on in vitro methodologies increases, it is important that researchers have access to resources that help guide workflow and experimental design, and provide basic and up to date guidance to help overcome common pitfalls and challenges encountered in cell culture.

January 2020

STR profiling using FTA cards

STR profiling using FTA cards for human cell line authentication. ECACC can now offer an STR profiling cell line authentication service where cells are simply spotted onto a special (FTA) card and sent for profiling at ambient temperature. This negates the need to extract DNA from cell pellets and removes the cold chain distribution required for sending cell pellets on dry ice.

January 2020

3D cell culture models

3D culture systems are used in many biological science disciplines including cell biology, immunology, tissue engineering and cancer and stem cell research. This technology can assist in the study of virus-host interactions in a setting which better represents in vivo physiological conditions; tissue-like constructs which are similar to their equivalents in vivo are present allowing for more in depth, accurate and relevant investigations to occur.

January 2020

Setting up an inverted phase contrast microscope for tissue culture

Setting up an inverted phase contrast microscope for tissue cultureOften microscope users are unaware of how to set up an inverted microscope and either suffer from low quality images or adopt a trial an error approach to try to improve results.  Understanding how to set up the microscope properly can save time and greatly increase the quality of images and data generated from cell cultures

January 2020

Reproducibility in pre-clinical life science research

Reproducibility in pre-clinical life science research. Reproducibility forms the foundation of meaningful scientific research and is an issue which is causing increasing concern. The causes are complex and include lack of validation of key biological reagents and reference material (including cell lines), poor study design, inadequate data analysis and reporting and a lack of robust laboratory protocol

January 2020
Flask of cell culture

CHO cell lines expressing Fcγ receptors – an in vitro tool for antibody based drug discovery

CHO cell lines expressing Fcγ receptors – an in vitro tool for antibody based drug discovery. New CHO cell line variants, expressing different classes of Fc gamma receptors (FcγRs) have been deposited exclusively into the ECACC General Collection by Cambridge Enterprise Limited, UK. The variant lines were developed in the laboratory of Dr. Mike Clark at Cambridge University and include five cell lines that express three different human FcγRs including allotypes of FcγRIIa and FcγRIIIa.

January 2020

ECACC cell lines in research: 2016

A review of 80 scientific publications citing the use of ECACC cell lines, published on line during 2016, emphasises the value of cell lines as tools in our quest to understand and combat human diseases. The use of 88 different ECACC cell lines was cited by authors affiliated to organisations in 36 countries, with significant focus on the pathogenesis and treatment of human cancers.

January 2020
FBS screening graph

FBS Screening

ECACC offers several thousand cell lines to researchers; the majority of these require serum for growth, which presents the problem of deciding on a suitable supply. Many laboratories batch test sera by setting up multiple cultures, and then performing cell counts at fixed time points. This is time consuming and requires  duplicate counts at every time point to provide sufficient accuracy. At ECACC we have developed an automated method using an IncuCyte live cells analysis system.  

January 2020