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10 Amazing Facts About Cell Culture You Should Not Miss

Biomedical and clinical research would be inconceivable without progress in cell culture. This tool has become inevitably crucial in life sciences and has evolved much since the early 20th century, with its application in primary cell culture, 3D culture, tissue engineering, 3D bioprinting, and regenerative therapies. As a cell culture researcher, you must have enough expertise in your domain of research but cell culturing has a vast area and several facts remain scattered throughout the history.

In this article, we present such 10 lesser known facts that can help you exclaim and love cell culture more!

1# More than 32,000 papers rely on misidentified cell line data

In case of cell lines, misidentification is a relevant problem and studies estimate that over 32,000 papers report their data based on the work done on misidentified cell lines. The problem booms exponentially when a plethora of other papers cite these reports, leading to a contaminated pool of data (Horbach and Halffman, 2017).

2# 70% researchers fail to reproduce the data of experiments

A Nature survey suggested that 70% of more than 1,500 researchers were unable to reproduce clinical research experiments and 50% of them even failed to reproduce their own ones.

3# First successful cell culture: Frog nerve fibers

An American zoologist Ross Granville Harrison was able to grow animal cells outside the body, successfully in 1907. He grew frog nerve fibers using the hanging drop method in a lymph medium (Abercrombie, 1961).

Cell Culture

4# HeLa cell line was established without the consent of Henrietta Lacks

This might not be a grand surprise for many researchers that HeLa cell line was the first to be immortalized in 1951, but it is interesting that such a ground-breaking progress in the biomedical cell culture field was done without the consent of the human source: Henrietta Lacks or her relatives without her consent. This raised numerous concerns about ethical privacy and patients’ rights in research. 

5# The first synthetic mammalian cell culture medium was created in 1950

JF Morgan developed medium 199 in 1950 and it was the first synthetic media for mammalian cell culture (Morgan et al., 1950). This development helped in efficient medium for vaccine production and allowed large-scale manufacturing of polio vaccines in 1955. 

6# Cell cultures can be contaminated by plastics

Virus, bacteria, fungi, mycoplasma, and endotoxins are common contaminants in cell culture but little do we acknowledge the contamination by plasticizers from plastic instruments. These plasticizers can contaminate cell culture and alter cell physiology (Yao and Asayama, 2017).

7# Pluripotent stem cells can help in growing mini-brains

In 2013, researchers from the University of Vienna developed brain organoids or “mini-brains” in the lab using human pluripotent stem cells and a 3D matrix for support. The generated brain organoids showed different nerve cell types and structurally mimicked mammalian brains (Lancaster et al., 2013).

8# Fat tissues to heart: success of 3D bioprinting

In 2019, researchers from Tel Aviv University’s School of Molecular Cell Biology and Biotechnology developed a new protocol for generating 3D-printed thick and perfusable vascular hearts from a biopsy of fat tissue. The 3D-printed hearts anatomically mimicked the properties of the original heart but lacked functionality (Noor et al., 2019).

9# Supercooling can enhance organ ex vivo life

A 2019 article in Nature Biotechnology has shown that supercooling human livers at -4ºC for storage can prevent ice formation, thus extending the ex vivo life from 12 to 27 hours (de Vries et al., 2019).

10# The 3D cell culture market could reach nearly USD four billion in 2021

In 2016, the global 3d cell culture market was valued at 1 billion USD and according to BBC Research, it is going to reach 4 billion USD by 2021 with an AGR of around 30%.

There are several other interesting cell culture facts to know for a budding the researchers. For more such information, contact If your lab is looking for tissue-specific primary cell culture, you can also visit our website at

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