What does it mean?

Cy·to·cen·tric, adj. 1. Taking the cells’ point of view in the laboratory and putting their needs first. Antonym.  Peoplecentric. Taking a person’s point of view in the laboratory and putting their needs first.


Cells cultured in vitro are critical to modern medical research across every subject area.

What do cells need outside of the body?


Think about what is in your lab and whether it is Cytocentric or Peoplecentric.

Do cells need the tables and chairs? Do cells need 21% oxygen?


No and no.


Taking a Total Quality Approach, we have categorized the needs of the cell in vitro into 5 areas, forming the Core Cytocentric™ Principles:


· Cells Need Full Time Protection

· Cells Need Full Time Optimization

· Cells Need Physiologic Simulation

· Cells Need Dynamics

· Cells Need Protocol


We will explore each of these needs individually in following posts.


There have been different calls for attention to the basic needs of cells in the research laboratory. The ECVAM Good Cell Culture Practices conference reports of 2002 and 2005 are among the best examples of coordinated international action to address issues around cell culture quality, documentation, and standardization. They are due to be updated this year. Cancer Research UK has also recently updated their guidelines.

Companies such as ATCC also strive to raise awareness of good cell culture practices.


These guidelines are even more important in the light of recent publications on the staggering consequences of unreliable in vitro data due to mycoplasma contaminationcross-contamination and misidentification of cell lines, and phenotypic drift over time in culture.


Last year, NIH called together the editors of over 30 major scientific journals met to address the problem of irreproducibility in scientific studies. There has been building concern that the majority of published studies may not present findings that are valid. Many of the problems that underlie studies that are not reproducible may be linked to low quality in vitro data, gathered in highly variable laboratory conditions and without thought to the cells’ needs.


Unreliable in vitro data leads to needless animal testing.

While animal suffering without clear benefit is ethically unacceptable, there is also the wasted time and money that have gone into testing compounds on animals that could have been eliminated with higher quality in vitro testing. Those resources could have been put to generating therapies that have real promise to heal humans.


These reasons are deeply compelling.


So why isn’t every research lab that isn’t GXP using good cell culture practices?


1.    Awareness

2.    Time/Effort/Money

3.    Protocol History-dependence

4.    The Well-Enough Mire. “My cells have always grown well enough to get experiments done. I’ve been doing this just fine for years.”


Maybe the question should be re-phrased, “What does it take to make meaningful changes in everyday laboratory practices?”


1.    Awareness

2.    Time/Effort/Money

3.    Protocol changes that risk making previous work not comparable to future work

4.    Personnel that are truly dedicated to the consistent effort that change requires and that will not slip back into old comfortable habits


Is it worth it?




The highest quality in vitro data is critical for the most money and time efficient research in the long term. Change is hard, but if not now, then when will each and every cell researcher take the time to make changes that will result in more reliable, more useful in vitro data. There is no more time to waste on ineffective, irreproducible in vitro data. Take the Cytocentric point of view and take the time to address the needs of the cells.