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How do I select the right cell culture media?

Cell culture media and their associated supplements have been targeted to specific cell culture types and have been tailored to provide a variety of different formulation options, so there are a vast range to choose from. Identifying your research objectives, and selecting the most appropriate cell type, are therefore crucial first steps in selecting the right cell culture media.  

Once these decisions have been made, the choice of cell culture media will have been substantially narrowed. E.g. Primary cell cultures (fibroblasts, mesenchymal stem cells, etc.) generally require specific growth factors to be supplemented to artificial media, whereas established cell lines such as HeLa or RPE1 require minimal supplements (FBS, L-Glutamine, optional antibacterial/fungal), beyond the basal media. 

Much of the cell culture media and different supplements necessary for cell growth and survival are empirically determined. These can be found in databases such as ATCC, ECACC, or other cell repositories, providing a first reference point for identifying the necessary media, supplement types and concentrations for your chosen cells. 

However, your research objectives will also need to be considered. If you are investigating cellular metabolism or the impact of specific nutrients on cellular processes, a more physiologically-relevant cell culture medium might be the best option to obtain more relevant results. These types of cell culture media have only recently been developed, with one of the first being PlasmaxTM, a ready-to-use medium, that mimics the metabolic and physiological profile of human plasma. 

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