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16 Questions To Ask Before Selecting A Cell Culture Provider

Below are 16 important questions to consider before choosing a cell culture services provider. The questions are followed by a brief description of why the question is important and ABS’ response to each question in blue.

  1. How long have you been in business? This is a simple question that is very revealing. The longevity of a business says a lot about how well they deliver value to their clients. ABS, founded in January 1990, has over three decades of providing fast reliable services to our clients.
  2. Do you follow our protocols or yours? Both options should be available to you. You want a company with the in-house knowledge and expertise to be able to grow any cell line that you wish without you having to develop the procedures. If you have procedures that are working well with you cells, it is preferable to use a company that can replicate those processes to ensure that the cells that they provide are similar to those that you grow. ABS will work with your procedures or use our protocols depending upon your needs.
  3. Do you have experience with the cell lines that I want you to grow? You don’t want a company that has to learn at your expense. Experience does matter. With over three decades of cell culture experience, we have grown hundreds of different cells. Growth conditions and other data are logged in our comprehensive database.
  4. What is your turnaround time? In drug discovery, speed is critical in finding new therapeutics from health and business perspectives. ABS typically thaws cells within four days of receipt or after we engineer the cells. Then, we grow the cells and QC the cells. Soon, we will be moving to new higher capacity laboratories to ensure that capacity does not become an issue as we grow.
  5. Can you provide and culture primary cells? Primary cells and organoids are an important part of many research efforts. ABS has large network of human biospecimen collections and can work with you on a custom basis.
  6. Do you offer cell line engineering services? Ideally, the company that you select will be able to both engineer and grow cells for you. ABS provides stable and transient transfection services.
  7. Will you use our cells for other projects? Some companies may engineer and grow a cell line and then sell it to other companies. ABS never does. Your research is your research.
  8. What confidentiality policies are in place? Confidentiality is an essential issue in all drug discovery research due to its proprietary nature and patent concerns. ABS never divulges any confidential information, and we routinely sign non-disclosure agreements with our clients.
  9. What Quality standards do you adhere to and do you have any quality certifications? A system to ensure quality and reliability is a necessary component for consistent experimentation. ABS adheres to the International Standards Organization’s (ISO) standards for quality and is ISO 9001: 2015 certified.
  10. What quality control tests do you routinely do? All cell lines should be free of Mycoplasma, bacterial, and fungal contamination prior to shipping to your facility. For human cell lines, the cell line ID should be verified. ABS routinely tests for organisms and does not release shipments that might fail QC. Cell line ID’s are verified for human cell lines. ABS can also monitor gene or protein expression with technologies such as RT-qPCR, Western analysis, and flow cytometry.
  11. What types of reporting do you offer? It is often important to know the progress of your order before it ships to you, so that you can appropriately schedule your work. ABS sends automatic updates on the progress of your orders and we also provide a Client Portal to access your information.
  12. Will I have single contact to answer my questions? It is disconcerting to have to track down the right contact if you have a question or concern. Too often, many companies’ sales contacts seem to disappear after the sale. With ABS, you are assigned and introduced to your Client Services representative after you place an order. With more complex or long-term projects, the introduction may occur earlier to facilitate communications. You may also be introduced to technical personnel to make sure that your needs are fully understood. Your Business Development Manager will also stay in contact with you to ensure your satisfaction.
  13. Do you offer any guarantees? Any company that you work with should stand by their work. We cannot guarantee the unknown (e.g., that a novel cell line will grow or function in a specific manner). We do guarantee that we will follow your specifications and that any cell line or process that routinely works in your laboratories will also work similarly when ABS grows or processes the cells. If that is not the case, we provide a replacement, or a full refund or credit at your discretion.
  14. Can you process cells after their growth? Growing cells is sometimes only the first step in obtaining the materials for an experiment. For example, membranes may be needed for receptor binding experiments, or proteins, DNA, or RNA may be required. Ideally, it is preferable to obtain these from a single source rather than having to work with multiple suppliers. ABS can be that source providing cell membrane preparations and other subcellular fractions, proteins, DNA, RNA, and many other services such as flow cytometry and cell sorting.
  15. Do you provide cell bank storage? Growing cells is only one component of having a reliable source of cells. The ideal supplier should offer a range of cell banking services. ABS does. We provide working and master banks as well as secure storage at our facility. In addition, we can replenish cell banks in advance with ready to use cell banks so that you do not have to wait to do an experiment.
  16. Can you provide logistics services? Logistics can be an important component of working with suppliers. For example, scientists may work with multiple CRO’s for a project. ABS can handle headaches of shipping and other logistics to make this work seamlessly for you. We have extensive experience shipping throughout Europe and Asia.




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