Fetal bovine serum is a liquid element of clotted blood preferred over many other types of sera as consider an ideal supplement for cell growth and considered a vital building block for vaccines.

Use of Animal Products In Vaccine Production

fetal bovine serum

Vaccines are defined as killed or weakened form of the disease-causing agent which may be viruses and bacteria or any component of these that provokes a response in the body by immune system stimulation, which eventually have a defensive effect against certain diseases development. During the last decades of the 19th century, many scientist experiments to grow the bacteria in the laboratory settings. The early scientist and bacteriologist worked hard to mimics as closely as possible the conditions in an infected person’s tissue by using a different solution having sugars, salts, various meat extracts to make optimal growth media. They somehow succeeded in growing bacteria and viruses in the lab by applying suitable media with all essential nutrients for growth factors. This leads to the formation of synthetic media for the optimal growth of many microorganisms essential for medical research and development. But there is still a need for additional nutrients to enhance the growth which is nowadays easily available from animal-derived products such as blood and serum. On the other hand, to produce vaccines from viruses in living cells, they need some additional complex growth factors in the media such as fetal bovine serum or fetal calf serum. To produce vaccines from different microorganism they are grown in strictly controlled media with all the nutrients and growth factors. Bovine components are often used because they are large animals easily available for material as commonly used for food. These bovine-derived products for vaccine production can be amino acids, glycerol, enzymes, and most importantly blood and serums. The serum is used mostly to grow and propagate difficult grown microorganisms.

Why Fetal Bovine Serum is Used in Vaccines?

Fetal bovine serum is not added to the vaccines in the form of preservatives or vaccine ingredients. According to the FDA fetal bovine serum is used in some vaccines as “In the manufacture of viral vaccines, the virus may be grown in cells.  These cells need a source of nutrition, which in some instances may be provided by fetal bovine serum.” So, the fetal bovine serum is added to provide the nutrients to viruses in the growth media. In the biopharmaceutical industry fetal bovine serum is considered as promising for the treatment of diseases like cancer and rheumatoid arthritis as it copies the human body’s natural defense mechanisms almost perfectly. It also provides a sick body with some crucial components like proteins, antibiotics, sugar, and nucleic acid( both DNA & RNA).

Consideration of The Use Of Fetal Bovine Serum

But there are some problems associated with the use of serum in production as it sometimes inhibits the proper growth of some viruses such as influenza. A most important consideration about the use of fetal bovine serum is that sometimes serum components are taken into the vaccine as a contaminant from the medium during the cell culturing process. Although it has been removed by certain methods like filtration still there are some residues in the final product as prions and mycoplasma which interferes with the outcomes of the experiment. Another consideration is the serum contaminated with bovine spongiform encephalopathy(BSE) or mad cow diseases which limits the use of bovine serum for vaccine production. Fetal bovine or fetal calf serum can interfere with the genotypic and phenotypic cell stability. Serum sometime also suppresses cell spreading and differentiation. Some people also ethically concerned about the way serum has been derived from fetal. As there is no synthetic serum substitute present for this. Different countries of origin pose different viral risks to a person. There are many diseases tend to be region-specific, so the serum coming from which country should also be considered. The serum has its chemical components which are the fingerprints of the environment in which that animal was raised and feed. Although there is no definite legislation for the origin country labeling this must be considered to avoid the cross-contamination of the final vaccine product.

Use of Bovine Serum Albumin

Bovine serum albumin is extracted from fetal bovine serum as its major constituent. It also resembles the human bovine albumin. It is used in a culture medium as a growth stimulator by providing nutrients for vaccine production. It is eventually removed from the final product by multiple processing and filtration procedures. There are some allergic reactions due to the use of bovine serum albumin in humans, thus world health organization has set a limit for it, which is 50ng or less residual of bovine serum albumin per dose of vaccine. Even we don’t have to worry about it but there is not any surety about bovine serum or bovine albumin resides present in the vaccine we take. But there is a high chance that fetal bovine serum did not cause any vaccine allergies.


Use of Fetal Bovine Serum Vs Bovine Serum Albumin

Some researchers have shown that serum album can be effectively used as a replacement of bovine serum in post infection medium for rubella virus production as it has been widely used for the production of rubella component of Measles, mumps and rubella vaccine .it also increase the viral titer as compared to the media supplement with bovine serum. Serum albumin still doesn’t consider the problem of animal or human contaminations.