Tissue Culture

Stem cell culture

The Tissue Culture Facility provides services such as inactivated MEF production, growth factors, mycoplasma screening, cell culture training and quality controlled reagents.

The tissue culture facility at the CSCR provides support and services to laboratories that are members of the Cambridge Stem Cell Institute.Some services may also be available to labs that are not within the Initiative, to find out more details about the cost and services offered to external labs please e-mail: tissue-culture@stemcells.cam.ac.uk

cell colonies

Feeder cells

The Tissue Culture facility at the CSCR produce banks of active and irradiated MEF cells available in vials of approximately 3 or 9 million cells per vial.

Feeder Cells Internal cost £ External cost £ 
Active MF1 MEF ~2-3 million 4 60
Active DS red MEF ~2-3 million 4 60
Active DR4 MEF ~2-3 million 42 200
Irradiated DS red MEF ~2-3 million 30 70
Irradiated DR4 MEF ~2-3 million 20 70

All cell batches are testing for bacterial and fungal contamination. Cells are screened for mycoplasma by broth with a test sensitivity of less than 20CFU/ml as well as the in house PCR.

Inactivated MEFs_TC

Growth Factors/proteins

Marko Hyvonen (marko@cryst.bioc.cam.ac.uk), Dept of Biochemistry produces large batches of growth factors /proteins for use in the Cambridge SCI. The tissue culture department can provide these growth factors and proteins to your lab reconstituted and aliquoted  in the volumes you require. These growth factors have been tested within the CSCR. The bFGF, activin A and mouse LIF are used on a daily basis and have shown to be equivalent to the commercially available reagents, but for a fraction of the cost.

These growth factors are available only to members of Cambridge University or the SCI.

Protein Cost
Z bFGF2 £100 / 500µg
Hu Activin A £250 / 250µg
Hu BMP2    £200 / 250µg
Hu BMP4 Currently unavailable £100 / 100µg
Ms FGF4 £160 / 400µg
Ms LIF £400 / mg
Hu LIF £500 / mg
TAT-Dre £50 / 100ul at 0.2mM              
TAT-Cre £50 / 50 µl at 0.5 mM

Download CSCI Order form


To ensure the consistency and quality of cells routinely cultured in serum we batch test serum specifically for use on mouse ES cells. Batch testing includes:
•    Growth rate for 10 passages
•    Oct4 expression in a reporter cell lines
•    Clonal seeding assay
Once a serum is selected enough serum is reserved for 2-3 years worth of work. The current batched tested serum is available at £35/500ml internally, for external prices please enquire.

Mycoplasma Screening

Mycoplasma infections of cells in culture were first discovered in 1956, 10 years later it was reported 59% of cells in culture were infected with mycoplasma. Mycoplasma infections may induce cellular changes, including chromosome aberrations, changes in metabolism and cell growth.

Tissue Culture at the CSCR routinely run  a PCR based mycoplasma tests. These tests are sensitive down to 500CFU/ml. To submit a sample for testing all we need is a sample of media from you cells that is antibiotic free and has been on the cells for 5 days.

A testing service for non University members is available, please e-mail for more details.

CSI form

Download CSCI mycoplasma

CSCR form

Download CSCR mycoplasms

Other University departments form

Download external mycoplasma


Good practice when culturing cells is essential if you are basing your research on cell based assays. The cell culture team at the CSCR have many years’ worth of experience of cell culture including mouse and human embryonic stem cells as well as many mammalian cells. 
We are happy to provide training in areas such as: 

  • Basic cell culture
  • mES cell culture
  • MEF isolation, production and inactivation

Training courses are on a one to one basis and can be adapted to suit your particular needs 
Basic training in cell culture involves hand on experience with ES and feeder cells over a 2-3 week period. For more information please email Tissue-culture@cscr.cam.ac.uk


The Tissue Culture Facility team is made of 2 technicians (Kamila Bulzcak and Jean Thompson) and the Facility Manager (Sally Lees).

The Academic chair for Tissue Culture is Professor Austin Smith.

For general enquiries about the services that the Tissue Culture team provide please email on: tissue-culture@stemcells.cam.ac.uk Or call on: 01223 760293

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