PETA Scientists Show How to Improve Research Without Using Fetal Bovine Serum

Published by Danny Prater.

A new paper coauthored by PETA Science Consortium International e.V. shows how to improve research by replacing media containing fetal bovine serum (FBS) with animal-free media.

Every year, up to 1.8 million unborn calves are killed worldwide to produce FBS—a mixture of molecules, including hormones, proteins, and growth factors, obtained from the blood of fetal calves after their mothers are slaughtered for food. FBS, which is used in laboratories to help grow cells in petri dishes (in vitro), contributes to the reproducibility problem in research, as differences between batches of FBS increase the variability of studies using cells grown in it.

The paper, published in Toxicology in Vitro, describes the transition of a human lung cell line commonly used in research to cell culture media without FBS or any other animal-derived components. The success of this project sets a precedent for making the same transition for other cell types and has far-reaching implications for the field of in vitro research.

Scientific organizations, such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the European Union Reference Laboratory for Alternatives to Animal Testing, have encouraged the transition from using FBS to using animal-free, chemically defined media.

PETA scientists are now sharing the publication with laboratories. They are also working to transition other cells out of FBS and encouraging researchers to do so as well.

Two brown cows in a field of flowers

The Science Consortium and its members have donated millions of dollars toward improving and implementing non-animal test methods, including funding their development and validation as well as organizing free workshops, webinars, and training opportunities for scientists.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind