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What affects FBS availability

Fetal bovine serum (FBS) is a byproduct of the meat industry. No one can influence the amount of FBS available. Drought, high feed prices and high beef demand leads to more available FBS. Milk prices can also impact the availability of FBS as dairy cows are culled when there is an oversupply of milk. Then when farmers are rebuilding their herds, there is less FBS on the market. The result? The price and availability of FBS can be difficult to predict.


What is FBS used for?

Both academic and industrial researchers and scientists in manufacturing environments use fetal bovine serum (FBS) in their cell culture media for a range of applications. The ability to maintain animal cells outside the body was demonstrated more than one hundred years ago. Currently, this technology is used in basic research as well as
  • Vaccine production
    • In the 1940s and 1950s techniques were refined to produce cell cultures that could be used to cultivate viruses (which will only grow in living cells). This led to the first virus vaccine to be produced using cell culture – polio vaccine, in 1955. The contribution to human and animal health of the vaccines that have resulted from the application of this technology is an ongoing global success story.
  • Biopharmaceuticals
    • More recently cell culture has been combined with what are called recombinant techniques to develop recombinant-derived products (“biopharmaceuticals which offer important new opportunities for treatment and diagnosis"). This is a hugely important and very rapidly expanding area of modern medicine.
  • Safety testing
    • Another significant application of cell culture is in the safety testing of widely used products such as cosmetics and household chemicals. As the use of live animals for testing of such products has become increasingly controversial cell culture has been used more and more to reduce or eliminate testing in animals.


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