Serum-Free Cell Culture: Why Should you Remove Serum from your Media?

04 Oct 2022

Cell culture uses a variety of products to help the cells grow, including medium, serum, reagents, and supplements. The controlled development or multiplication of cells acquired from plant or animal sources in an artificial medium is known as cell culture. 

Cell culture is an essential component of biotechnology and is employed in a wide range of commercial and academic applications. Cell culture research is used in a variety of fields, including genetics, cell therapy, and regenerative medicine. 

The cell culture medium is probably the most critical aspect of cell culture, and many media recipes or commercial media preparations are the results of years of refinement. 

Cell culture models mimic physiological conditions and growth factors. Cells need vitamins and other nutrients to grow and proliferate. 

What is the importance of serum in media?

Media contains vitamins, sugars, and buffering agents to maintain the health of the cells. One of the common additives for cell culture media is the serum which is commonly called fetal bovine serum (FBS). 

The serum is one of the main ingredients in cell culture media because it contains hormones, lipids, and growth factors which are essential for cell proliferation and growth. A huge difference is noticeable if the serum is removed from the culture medium. 

To induce cell cycle synchronization, deliberate serum-starvation is used in which the culture of serum is starved for too a long time. Serum-free cell culture also leads to reduced cell survival and increased apoptosis. 

The global serum-free media market is progressing rapidly with a significant increase in research and development activities pertaining to a wide range of animal component-free products for disease detection, accentuating their criticality in healthcare.

According to the BIS Research report, the global serum-free media market was valued at $1.02 billion in 2021 and is expected to reach $3.92 billion by 2032, registering a CAGR of 12.73% during the forecast period 2022-2032. 

Role of Serum-Free Media

Serum-free media ensures the safe and effective application for improved cell culture and cell therapy-based methods and has a critical role in the cellular diagnostics approach. 

Several clinical organizations and biopharmaceutical companies are working collaboratively on molecular biology applications, cell biology, cancer research, metagenomics, and plant research using serum-free media as a therapeutic means for applications in several disease indications in order to enable efficient diagnosis, treatment selection, dosage selection, and treatment monitoring. 

The growth in the global serum-free media market is expected to be driven by factors such as the low risk of contamination in the media, rising awareness of media-based diagnostic testing, and the significant number of funding for executing research and development. 

The selection of an adequate growth medium for in vitro cultivation is the most significant and important phase in cell culture.

Several techniques are employed in the development of serum-free media for the process of removing cells, tissues, or organs from an animal or plant and putting them into a setting that will help them survive and/or proliferate. 

Why consider serum-free media?

Every healthy aspect of serum is followed by its downsides, such as: 

High variability: Serum belongs to the category of animal-derived natural products. While the serum is important for the health of the cells, it also contains immune complement proteins that are harmful to the cells. Increasing the standardization of cell culture conditions for more consistent results is one of the biggest reasons for going serum-free. 

Source of contamination: One of the other issues with serum is viral or bacterial contamination. When contaminated serum is added to cell culture, it affects the health and growth of the cells and makes them unusable for experiments. 


The global serum-free media market has evolved to be an integrative aspect of healthcare procedures by providing most diagnostic laboratory tests equipped with diagnosing infectious diseases, oncology, and genetics. 

The massively parallel methods that have now transcended media-based cellular diagnostics further allow the sequencing of entire genomes at very low costs and are expected to grow further in the coming years due to the continuous increase in prognostic assessments for a wide range of diseases. 


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