Human Serum Albumin

Blog entry

When I was in grad school, I gave a seminar on my research and suggested that it could someday help people suffering from various neurological disorders. After all, I just made an incredible, once in a lifetime discovery! Right? No. I generated yet another variation of transplant experiments that would meet an insurmountable roadblock to the clinic once the fateful questions that floored me are asked: “What real value does this research have in the transplant world for humans? I mean, you grew your ES cells on mouse fibroblasts, this medium has growth factors of a bovine origin, and this other medium has FBS in it.”

I learned the hard way that REAL therapeutic uses for stem cell biology lie in our ability to grow cells in a xeno-free or animal-free environment. The first step in the process is to go serum free (What!?! Serum-FREE? The dude that writes a blog for a company that supplies serum  is talking about going serum free?).  Yep. That is the reality and the regenerative medicine world knows it. So do the folks at Gemini. 

In the effort to develop cells that can be used for clinical purposes, researchers now use alternatives to serum, with albumin being a popular one. Human serum albumin (HAS) is purified albumin from human blood. Albumin is one of the most common proteins found in blood plasma and serves several key functions. It’s a transporter for things like hormones and fatty acids, it binds to calcium, sodium, and potassium and can also stabilize pH in your cultures. HSA is a great alternative to BSA for those using human cells. With all these functions, it’s not too difficult to see why albumin is a favorite among cell biologists moving toward a serum free environment for their cells.

So what’s the big difference between this and BSA? Well, besides animal of origin (cow vs. upright ape), not much. But in the days of bovine spongiform encephalitis (Mad Cow Disease) , HSA is widely considered a safe alternative to BSA. Also, folks who are much closer to clinical applications for their research than I was, may prefer a human product to study their cells.

So,  be on the look-out for your Gemini rep, popping in your lab to talk about this stuff. They have 4 different human albumin products.  I’ll bet you a nickel they have the one you need!


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