Insect cells: Not just for entomology enthusiasts
Researchers have been using insect cells in the lab for decades. Back in 1962, Dr. Grace successfully grew and maintained cells from female moth ovaries. At first glance, it would seem that Grace made a breakthrough in what could be an exciting new emerging field; moth ovary research! But seriously, this was indeed a breakthrough in cell culture, though it would take a while for researchers (even Grace) to actually realize it.
Today, most labs that are growing insect cells are using them to generate recombinant proteins, with the exception of the relatively few that may be studying developmental biology, testing insecticides or conducting environmental toxicology studies. Baculovirus is a virus that essentially has evolved to infect insects (and some shrimp, as I’ve come to learn), making it a very attractive option for scientists looking to use insect cells for protein engineering. To boot, this specificity makes baculovirus an exceptionally safe vector to use in the lab, as it is unable to replicate in mammalian cells.
Today, dozens of insect cell lines from many species exist and they all have their own quirks and issues. However, like mammalian cell lines, they all seem to follow a general recipe with a few different supplements thrown in. Gemini has a few different types of insect medium. They offer Grace’s medium as well as TNM-FH and SFIM60. So whether you’re growing SF21, SF9, or some other lepidopteran cell line (more on these little guys next week), Gemini has a medium you should try, at a price that will be sure to make you happy.