Why use serum-free media?
There is a large number of serum-free nutrient media on the market and there are other reasons besides the animal ethical for using them:
They are more reliable
There is certainty about the content of a defined, serum-free nutrient medium. Chemically manufactures substances are uniform. Health authorities set ever stricter requirements for safety, and serum-free nutrient media can be used without risk.
They are cheaper
Serum-free media are cheaper in the long term. Outbreaks of foot and mouth disease can push the price of foetal calf serum even higher. Although foetal calf serum is a supplement and only represents about 5-15% the total nutrient medium, it is estimated that foetal calf serum represents between 55% and 70% of a given nutrient medium. Researchers have estimated that going over to serum-free alternatives gives a cost-saving of 80%.
What do I do?
It has become easy to find the nutrient medium which best suits your research and your cell lines. Here you can find a list of suppliers of serum-free nutrient media. They will tell you whether they supply a nutrient medium which is appropriate for research and cell line, or whether they can generate a tailor-made one specially.
Using other types of animal serum is not progress – for either animal welfare or science.