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Animal Cell Culture- Safety and Handling Considerations

A crucial step before taking up research work with human or animal tissue is to ensure appropriate ethical and medical legislation and guidelines for experiments. This can also deal with procuring approval from relevant authorities or individuals.

Biohazards and Safety considerations

It is very important to know the possible associated risks while working with potential biohazards. This happens only with a sound knowledge of the materials and working protocols. Cell cultures are generally considered biohazard prone as they can easily harbor infectious agents like viruses.

Biohazard degree depends on the cells in the culture and the experiment to be performed. Primary cell cultures need very careful handling as they have higher risks of getting contaminated with undetected viruses or mycoplasma. Cell lines should also go through proper screening before being used for experiments as contaminated cultures will adversely affect the research results.

Every animal cell culture lab should maintain proper documentation on handling cell culture work to avoid any risk of potential infection of the environment. Good laboratory practices are essential for two main reasons: (a)reducing the risk of exposure for the workers, and (b)preventing cell culture contamination with microbial or other cells. Working in a biosafety-approved laminar flow hood requires researchers to follow stringent aseptic techniques, ensuring aerosol limitations. aerosols represent an inhalation hazard, and can potentially lead to cross-contamination between cultures. To avoid aerosol formation, TD (to deliver) pipets should be used instead of TC (to contain) pipets. Moreover, some more tips to avoid aerosols are:(a) using pipets with cotton plugging,(b) not mixing liquids by rapidly pipetting, (c) not using excessive force while using pipets, (d) not bubbling air through liquids while using a pipet, (e) releasing the contents of a pipet as close as possible to the liquid level in the vial or allowing the contents to run down the vial sides. Besides these simple tips, proper usage of equipment, like a centrifuge, can also help in minimizing the risk of aerosol formation. After laminar work, all the waste media and consumables should be disinfected using autoclave or disinfectants before proper disposal according to institutional or organizational guidelines.

Five Simple Lab Tips to Use Laminar Hood

  • Keep laminar flow hoods in an area with minimal air current disturbance. Avoid placing them near doorways or air vents. Have dedicated sterile cell culture rooms for your cell handling.
  • Laminar flow hoods should be kept clean without storing equipment inside the cell culture hood.
  • Before starting work in the laminar hood, surface disinfection of the laminar stage, bottles, etc. should be done using 70% ethanol or IPA.
  • Arrangement of pipets, waste containers, reagent bottles, etc. should be done in a way that one can avoid passing used items over clean items or open culture dishes or flasks.
  • Used items for discard should be kept in a bin inside the hood till all work has been completed. Before removing the discard bin, disinfect with ethanol.

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