Baby Hamster Kidney Cells

The attached BHK 21 cell line was derived from five un-sexed 1-day-old Syrian hamster (Mesocricetus auratus) kidneys in 1961. BHK 21 clone 13 was obtained after single-cell isolation and is now widely used, very often only addressed as BHK or BHK 21. Several variants have been developed that are being adapted to suspension culture or suitable for genetic engineering techniques.

Because of their susceptibility to various viruses, they have been extensively used for the production of vaccines. Since the 1960s, BHK cells have played the major role in the production of FMDV vaccine in industrial-scale fermenters (with a capacity of several thousand liters) for veterinary applications. The experience and know-how gained with this manufacturing system led to the increased use of animal cells and the improvement of process parameters. Like CHO, BHK cells show spontaneous aggregation that can be advantageous for cell retention and recycling systems (22). Efforts have also been directed toward high-cell-density culture and serum- or protein-free media formulations (23). The first product approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from BHK cells cultured in perfusion reactors was the recombinant human factor VIII for the therapy of coagulation disorders. Since then, many other proteins have been produced on laboratory- and industrial-scales using this versatile cell line, ranging from human erythropoietin and antithrombin III to enzymes and a range of vaccines for veterinary or human health applications (Table 2).

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