In vitro cell culture experiments play an important role in the advancement of life science and biomedical research. These cell culture studies have become an integral part of research related to diagnosis, drug development, and drug toxicity and add significant value to the understanding of cellular and functional aspects of physiology and metabolism. However, the in vitro environment in which cell culture experiments are done and from the source these cells and related materials are derived are also ideal condition for the proliferation of microorganisms. The risk of laboratory infection when working with continuous cell lines in general is low, risk increases when working with human and other primate cells, and primary cells from other mammalian species. Any oversight on the safety precautions related to in vitro handling techniques can be hazardous to persons working with them.
Below are some basic safety measures, you should take while working with primary cell cultures
- Since the primary culture techniques makes the use of animal or human tissues, it is imperative to follow medical ethics associated with it.
- For using human tissues, the consent of the person and/or relatives is very necessary requirement for using tissues for research purposes.
- Human materials need to be handled in a bio safety cabinet only. The tissues should be screened for various infections such as hepatitis, tuberculosis, HIV etc before their use.
- The media and apparatus before and after their use must be autoclaved or disinfected to reduce microorganism infection. The disinfection/decontamination of culture waste, work surfaces and equipment are important means for minimising the risk of harm.
- Routine mycoplasma testing should be carried out as it can be used as an indicator of good tissue culture practice
- Cell culture researchers have a ‘duty of care’ to dispose of all biological waste safely in accordance to biomedical waste guidelines.
These all safety measures aim at reducing the risk of contamination with unwanted organisms by ensuring protection of both cell culture lines and lab operators.