Bovine is an animal that is related to the cattle group including cows, heifer, bull, bullock, calf, ox, or bison.  Fetal bovine serum, also known as fetal calf serum, is harvested from a bovine fetus taken from a pregnant cow during slaughter by means of a cardiac puncture without any form of anesthesia.  Fetal bovine serum is a blood product that is widely used in laboratories to promote growth medium, including biotechnology research, vaccine production, cloning and in vitro fertilization.

The Importance of Fetal Bovine Serum

We can thank fetal bovine serum, FBS, for its latest role in creating a more sustainable product that does not require the hassle and waste of cattle production.  A plan-based food company has recently made public its plans to bring lab-grown meat made from the blood of cow fetuses into circulation soon.

Aside from the moral concern surrounding the collection of fetal bovine serum, because needless to say that the fetus, which remains alive during the process to ensure blood quality, has a needle inserted into its heart, there are several scientific and technical problems that exist now regarding the application of fetal bovine serum in cell culture.

While the extraction process may seem inhumane, animal biologicals have been meticulously tested by pharmaceutical companies as sources of drugs to the modern day medical science and even used in the testing of drugs, vaccines, various biologics, and medical devices.

Why Use Fetal Bovine Serum?

Fetal bovine serum is commonly used because of its high content of embryonic growth promoting factors, but as a matter of good research practices, some scientists and researchers have questioned the potential suffering caused to the calf during the extraction process of harvesting of blood from the bovine fetus and are now looking for other ways to develop serum-free alternatives.

It is estimated that around 700,000 liters of fetal bovine serum were sold in 2008 to collectors, manufacturers, and end users who belong to the International Serum Industry Association that prides itself on the safety and safe use of serum and animal biologicals.

This would obviously be a hard pill to swallow for many animal welfare enthusiasts because when animal testing is done to support bids for medical products regulated by FDA, manufacturers, or sponsors are required to follow FDA’s regulation whether it’s a frowned up process or not.

A Positive Look On The Research

Looking at this issue on a positive note, animal testing has proven beneficial not only in promoting very important research programs but also in saving countless lives. Research shows that bovine fetus serum is taken from pregnant cows which have been sent to the slaughter house for reasons such as crippling lameness or from the simple fact that they are bred for their beef purposes.

The cardiac puncture process used to harvest bovine fetus serum, which is performed by inserting a needle between the ribs directly into the heart of anaesthetized fetus, may seem inhumane, but it is primarily used because it minimizes the risk of serum contaminations with micro-organisms from the fetus itself, and its environment. The calf is then quickly removed and cleaned to live a healthy life.

Learn more about Innovative Research and our high quality research materials including human, plant, and animal biological, ELISA & Assay Kits, proteins, antibodies, cell cultures, blood, serum, plasma, and more.  More information can be found at or by calling 248.896.0145.

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