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Safety is paramount in any cell culture laboratory. It protects the researcher from possible contamination and it also helps to ensure that healthy cell lines are produced in the process. Failure to dutifully follow aseptic techniques and other safety measures in the cell culture laboratory can result in the contamination of cells. Some safety measures to be observed in the cell culture laboratory include:

  • All new cells that arrives the cell culture lab should be first quarantined, and treated as potentially infected.
  • Carcinogenic substances and materials should be handled with care and caution.
  • Existing cell culture stocks should be regularly screened.
  • New cells should also be screened to lookout for infection.
  • Do not eat, smoke or drink in the cell culture working area.
  • Used gloves should not be worn outside the cell culture laboratory.
  • Do not bring in friends in to the cell culture laboratory for chatting or making phone calls.
  • Protective clothing or lab coat should always be worn when in the cell culture laboratory.
  • All equipment, reagents and media should be handled with care and according to the manufactures instructions.
  • Hands should always be washed with detergents/antiseptics or soap before and after work and even before leaving the cell culture laboratory.
  • Treat all liquid waste with bleach before disposing.
  • Care should be taken when handling infectious cells (e.g. prions and viruses).
  • The cell culture hood must always be used in cell culture experimentations to avoid cross contamination.

Further reading

Cooper G.M and Hausman R.E (2004). The cell: A Molecular Approach. Third edition. ASM Press.

Das H.K (2010). Textbook of Biotechnology. Fourth edition. Wiley edition. Wiley India Pvt, Ltd, New Delhi, India.

Davis J.M (2002). Basic Cell Culture, A Practical Approach. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK. 

Mather J and Barnes D (1998). Animal cell culture methods, Methods in cell biology. 2rd eds, Academic press, San Diego.

Noguchi P (2003).  Risks and benefits of gene therapy.  N  Engl J Med, 348:193-194.

Sambrook, J., Russell, D.W. (2001). Molecular Cloning: a Laboratory Manual, 3rd edn. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, New York.

Tamarin Robert H (2002). Principles of Genetics. Seventh edition. Tata McGraw-Hill Publishing Co Ltd, Delhi.     

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