The Evolution of Cell Culture Surfaces

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Cell culture surfaces are surfaces on which cells are grown under controlled conditions away from their natural environment. The cells under investigation are isolated from the tissue and are sustained and preserved under carefully controlled conditions. 

The History of Cell Culture Surfaces

In the past century, cell culture, growth, and differentiation have moved from fringe experiments to a widely used bioproduction tool. In this time, the cell culture surfaces themselves have evolved as the research requirements adjust. 

Cell culture surfaces have been a critical part of many experimental procedures such as the poliovirus vaccine in 1954. This was the first time a cell culture was used in the development of a commercial product and started a steep rise in cell cultures as research and production tools.  

Historical Challenges of Cell Culture Surfaces

Primary cell cultures have historically had difficulty attaching to glass. This led to the use of rat tail collagen to cover glass surfaces to enhance cell attachment and growth of cells in cell research. The glass used for cell culture surfaces requires extensive and rigorous cleaning that guarantees that residues of cleaning products are not jeopardizing the experiment. 

Rather than go through all of these processes, scientists began using disposable, plastic cell culture surfaces made from treated polystyrene. Polystyrene surfaces were selected because of the material’s excellent optical clarity which is moldable and easily sterilized with irradiation. The surface is modified to make it more hydrophilic, allowing cell attachment proteins to spread along the surface and creating a better environment for the cells to attach. 

As time went on, polystyrene fell out of favor with researchers due to its difficulties growing cells in serum-free media. Polystyrene cell culture surfaces also had difficulties sustaining differentiated cell functions in cell lines. 

Researchers began coating culture vessels to enhance the performance and attachment using a range of materials such as:

  • Collagen
  • Laminin 
  • Adhesion proteins 
  • Fibronectin 
  • Hyaluronidate 
  • Heparin sulfate 
  • Chondroitin sulfate 

These coatings improve attachment and growth of cells as well as keep them attached during processing. 

Key Applications of Cell Culture Surfaces

Cell culture studies are critical for manufacturing vaccines and human organ transplants. They are also a significant aspect of some anticancer drugs and cellular agriculture. 

Cell Culture Surface Solutions from Platypus Technologies

At Platypus, we manufacture a range of cell culture surface solutions. To find out more, get in touch with our dedicated team of experts today.