FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
The OIE (World Organization for Animal Health) is an intergovernmental organization created in 1924. In 2011, the OIE totaled 178 Member Countries and Territories.
Its missions are:
- To ensure transparency in the global animal disease situation
- To collect, analyze and disseminate veterinary scientific information
- To provide expertise and encourage international solidarity in the control of animal diseases
- To safeguard world trade by publishing health standards for international trade in animals and animal products
- To improve the legal framework and resources of National Veterinary Services Organization.
Fetal Bovine Serum
FBS is collected from the fetuses of pregnant cows, slaughtered in compliance with the OIE (World Animal Health Organization) guidelines and internationally accepted standards of veterinary inspection.
There is a wide range of applications for fetal bovine serum. The most important is in the field of biopharmaceuticals and vaccines. It is used in the research, manufacture and control of human and veterinary vaccines and of drugs, many of which are at the cutting edge of drug development.
Fetal bovine serum is also used extensively in research. A technique known as “Cell culture” is widely applied in the manufacture of both vaccines and bio-pharmaceuticals in which bovine serum is broadly used.
Fetal Bovine Serum (FBS) comes from the blood drawn from a bovine fetus via a closed system of collection at the slaughterhouse. Fetal Bovine serum is the most widely used serum supplement for the in vitro cell growth factors because of its high content of embryonic growth promoting factors.
The serum’s source is from a USDA Approved country. This means that serum is produced from blood collected in countries that have been approved by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to export ruminant serum products to the United States. Eligible countries that export fetal bovine serum into the U.S. include: Australia, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, New Zealand, Nicaragua, and Panama.
Maintaining cells in vitro in a healthy condition and over time is a complex task. They will only survive, grow and multiply if they are well fed and provided with an appropriate and protective environment. Complex mixtures of substances (“media”) are used to bathe the cells in order to both feed and protect them. Different cells have different requirements. In many instances the presence of serum in the mixture is essential if the cells are to grow adequately and normally. Bovine serum is much the most widely used, because high quality bovine serum is available in sufficient volume and has been found to support cell growth very well indeed.
Bovine serum is a by-product of the meat industry. Bovine blood may be taken at the time of slaughter, from adult cattle, calves, very young calves or (when cows that are slaughtered are subsequently found to be pregnant) from bovine fetuses. It is also obtained from what are called “donor” animals which give blood more than once.
Blood is available from bovine fetuses only because a proportion of female animals that are slaughtered for meat for human consumption are found (often unexpectedly) to be pregnant.
Bovine serum is categorized according to the age of the animal from which the blood was collected as follows:
- Fetal bovine serum” comes from fetuses
- Newborn calf serum” comes from calves less than three weeks old
- Calf serum” comes from calves aged between three weeks and 12 months
- Adult bovine serum” comes from cattle older than 12 months
Serum is the centrifuged fluid component extracted from either clotted or defibrinated whole blood. Bovine serum comes from blood taken from domestic cattle.
Whilst the procedure of making serum may seem to be straightforward, the processing of serum takes place under very tightly controlled conditions. The process has been carefully developed and uses sophisticated facilities and equipment, and is accompanied by extensive testing particularly stringent when processed bovine serum is intended for use in the production of medicinal products.