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Cell culture: useful publications and websites

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.

Perhaps no text book is more comprehensive than Culture of Animal cells; A Manual of Basic Technique and Specialised Applications. This major work by R Ian Freshney, with the help of reviewing editors Amanda Capes-Davies, Carl Gregory and Stefan Przyborski, contains over 600 pages of information, figures, mini-reviews and protocols covering all aspects of cell culture with the overarching objective of providing functional specialised cells in culture.

In terms of free to access peer reviewed literature there are two key papers that advise best practice in cell culture:

  • Coecke, Sandra, Michael Balls, Gerard Bowe, John Davis, Gerhard Gstraunthaler, Thomas Hartung, Robert Hay, et al. ‘Guidance on Good Cell Culture Practice. a Report of the Second ECVAM Task Force on Good Cell Culture Practice’. Alternatives to Laboratory Animals: ATLA 33, no. 3 (June 2005): 261–87.
  • Geraghty, R. J., A. Capes-Davis, J. M. Davis, J. Downward, R. I. Freshney, I. Knezevic, R. Lovell-Badge, et al. ‘Guidelines for the Use of Cell Lines in Biomedical Research’. British Journal of Cancer 111, no. 6 (9 September 2014): 1021–46. doi:10.1038/bjc.2014.166.

Coecke et al paper is a little outdated but is still a good source of basic information. Geraghty et al is more up to date and comprehensively covers cell line development, acquisition, authentication, storage and banking, quality control and considerations for transporting cells. This paper has a helpful reference section that includes links to useful websites.

Researchers contemplating the use of novel three dimensional (3D) cell culture techniques would find Technology Platforms for 3D Cell Culture: A User’s Guide (Ed. Stefan Przyborski; published by John Wiley and Sons) a useful resource. This recently published book shows the how the available technologies work and advises scientists how they can adopt these novel techniques in their own labs.

Many suppliers provide free reference guides on cell culture and ECACC is no exception with its freely provided Fundamental Techniques in Cell Culture – Laboratory Handbook. This guide was produced in conjunction with Sigma Aldrich (Merck) and has a set of companion videos available to view on Youtube.

Another essential resource is the International Cell Line Authentication Committee (ICLAC) that has crucial information about the use and misuse of misidentified cell lines and the comprehensive list of cross contaminated and misidentified cell lines.

To stay abreast of developments in an industrial setting the European Society for Animal Cell Technology (ESACT) and its British counterpart (ESACT UK) offer useful resources, websites and meetings promoting the exchange of knowledge and communication between biologists and engineers.

January 2020