Cell lines (cultures developed from only a single cell) can be frozen for long-term storage. These cell lines play critical roles in scientific advancements, especially in regards to biomedical research. Because cell lines can multiply in artificial environments forever, they are an invaluable research tool. Cell lines, therefore, must be very carefully preserved in order to continually further research.
Cell lines should function as close to the original cell as possible, which can be difficult to ensure since many cell functions are uncertain. Contamination can be a major issue as well, since some lines multiply very rapidly, and soon entire cultures can be overtaken. This is where proper cryopreservation comes into play.
Cryogenic freezing is an efficient way of preserving these cells long-term. The extremely low temperatures slow down cell metabolism enough to avoid genetic changes in the cell lines. Cryopreservation also protects the cells from contamination, and replacing contaminated cell lines can be costly and time-consuming.
Because these cell lines are descended from a single cell, they are genetically identical, and can be relied upon to produce consistent and accurate results (at least if they were stored in optimal conditions). Cryovials should be labeled with the appropriate date, researcher, cell number, and other relevant information. Cells must be completely frozen to be properly preserved.
Different models contribute to different areas of research. The very first cell line was called HeLa, after Henrietta Lacks, whose cervical-cancer biopsy cells would go on to contribute to numerous areas of research (such as the development of the polio vaccine or leukemia studies). Other models have contributed to drug metabolism tests, cancer studies, or in vitro studies.
Butanis, Benjamin. “The Importance of HeLa Cells.” Johns Hopkins Medicine, 11 Apr. 2017, http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/henriettalacks/importance-of-hela-cells.html.
DoveNov, Alan. “The Art of Culture: Developing Cell Lines.” Science, 5 Jan. 2018, http://www.sciencemag.org/features/2014/11/art-culture-developing-cell-lines.