On the 15th of August 2017, the 3Rs-Centre Utrecht Life Sciences and Animal Free Research UK launched the FCS-free Database: fcs-free.org, as a new addition to the 3Rs Database programme. The website allows researchers to identify FCS-free media for specific cell types and to exchange information on the applicability of FCS-free media. This website will contribute to the replacement of animals used for research and to the reproducibility of in vitro methods.
Dr. Jan van der Valk introduced the topic by explaining why cell culture media are supplemented with fetal calf serum. Van der Valk: “Cells that are grown outside the body (in vitro), need, among others, nutrients, proteins and growth factors to stay alive and multiply. Fetal calf serum (FCS) contains these necessary components, but there are moral and scientific concerns associated with FCS.” FCS is harvested, with a high chance of suffering, from unborn calves. Furthermore, since it is a natural product, the composition of the commercially available FCS varies from batch to batch, which impedes the reproducibility of results. FCS is a universal supplement that works for most cells. FCS-free culture media, though, have to be developed for every cell type. To facilitate the search for available FCS-free media that can be used to successfully grow cells in the lab, the FCS-free Database is developed”.
Collaboration with Animal Free Research UK
Afterwards, Dr. Alpesh Patel of Animal Free Research UK explained why they have invested time and money in the development of this database. Patel: “Animal Free Research UK funds and promotes research without the use of animals, and with human relevance. This was a great project to get involved in, since it reflects our vision on how human research should be carried out without the need for any animals in any form to be used.”
After the presentations, Ted van den Bergh, director of Triodos Foundation and one of the partners of the 3Rs Database programme, was invited forward. Together with Dr. Patel, he pushed the red button that officially launched fcs-free.org.
Share your experiences!
Besides just providing the information on which media are available for the different cell types, the website also serves as a platform for scientists to exchange information on the applicability of each product. Furthermore, scientific publications on FCS-free recipes can also be found in the database. The 3Rs-Centre ULS and Animal Free Research UK are inviting all members of the in vitro community to use the website to find FCS-free media for their specific cell types. In addition, they are encouraged to participate in the discussions on each product and share their experiences with FCS-free media.
See you on fcs-free.org!
You'll find the press release here.