Animal cell lines are a resource in biotechnological processes. They are used increasingly in molecular biology developments, fermentation technology, the production of diverse health care products, and cell-based screening systems in toxicology and pharmacology. Large-scale technology began with the use of primary monkey kidney cells for the production of poliomyelitis vaccines in the 1950s. After intense debates on safety issues, human diploid cell strains (e.g., WI-38) were accepted for the production of mumps, measles, and rubella vaccines in the 1960s. The next step was taken in 1964 with the commercial production of foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) from baby hamster kidney (BHK 21) cells for veterinary purposes. After the discovery of interferons and their clinical importance, the growing demand for these compounds led to the search for alternative, easily accessible sources. Interferon was the first licensed product derived from Namalwa cells, a human lymphoblastoid heteroploid cell line, in the late 1970s. Soon after this, hybridoma and monoclonal antibodies (mAb) took over the fast-developing market with their diverse applications in diagnostic and therapy.

Although strict safety standards have to be met, the value of animal cell lines is undeniable, and they are indispensable for the industrial production of eukaryotic proteins.

Since the acceptance of cell lines for the production of vaccines, cytokines, mAb, and therapeutic proteins or even the cells as product themselves, constant progress in a broad range of areas has contributed to the improvement of products. Research fields having major impact are analysis and adaptation of suitable cell lines, high-level expression systems, genetically engineered cell lines and products (e.g., protein modifications), scale-up methodology, bioreactor development, and downstream techniques (e.g., purification, quality control).

This chapter presents an overview of cell lines used for various applications and assays and gives an insight into different technologies and products.

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