Are there alternatives to FBS ?

There are some cell lines specific serum-free alternatives available. In most cases, cell adaptation is needed, yields are lower and costs are higher.

What makes Fetal Bovine Serum (FBS) unique?

FBS is essentially a natural product. All FBS batches are unique, with specific characteristics, different from all other batches.

Why is the demand for FBS increasing ?

The demand for FBS is growing along with the latest research developments, including stem cells, cell therapy, new vaccines and proteomics.

What is FBS global supply?

The availability of FBS is diminishing. Meat and calf prices are increasing as consumers in some countries increase the consumption of beef; and as cattle breeding techniques are permanently improving. These combined factors lead to a reduced frequency of pregnant cows at slaughter. The collection of FBS in new countries has, for many years, compensated… Read more »

Why is FBS less expensive in Europe than in the USA ?

FBS Imports into the EU are less restricted than in the USA. A proposal made by USDA in 1994 to apply the same FBS import policies as the EU did not get support from the US FBS industry. The International Serum Industry Association (ISIA) supports efforts to harmonize import rules, suggesting compliance with the OIE… Read more »

Are some FBS origins better quality than others ?

The serum’s origin has no influence on cell growth. Biosera has compared cell growth in FBS from seven different countries on three continents, and confirmed that regardless of the country of origin, all cell lines tested had the same average performance. One batch of FBS may work well for one specific cell line, but not… Read more »

Why do prices differ from different countries?

A huge price difference exists between countries classified as “FMD-Free-without-vaccination” for which demand exceeds supply, and countries listed as “FMD-Free-with-vaccination” where supply historically has exceeded demand. The price difference has been several hundred per cent, whereby serum users in the US have paid billions of USD more than serum users in the EU. Proposals from USDA to harmonize… Read more »

Why is Australian FBS so expensive?

 Australian FBS prices are higher because Australia is perceived to be a “safer” origin for BSE and cattle viruses. Canada and Australia were the first countries outside the USA where FBS was produced. In the 1980s, BSE cases that occurred in North America became a strong argument in favor of Australian FBS. The point was made that being “isolated”, Australia… Read more »

Foot and mouth disease (FMD): does it matter ?

FMD is relevant for regulatory import purposes but not for cell growth. The USA and a few other countries only allow FBS imports from countries free from FMD, WITHOUT vaccination while most other countries also accept FMD-free WITH vaccination. Both types of FMD-free countries are free of FMD cc and circulating FMD viruses, as verified by the… Read more »

What about bovine viruses ?

Some cattle viruses can cross the placenta of the cow and infect the calf fetus, thus contaminating FBS and potentially making it unsuitable for use in cell culture. Some of these cattle viruses have a limited distribution and only exist in certain parts of the world.  These are viruses of concern when importing FBS from infected… Read more »