A cell bank is a facility that stores cells of specific genome for the purpose of future use in a product or medicinal needs. They often contain expansive amounts of base cell material that can be utilized for various projects. The advantages of cell banks is that the facilities will include a "detailed characterization of the cell line" and will have a "decrease in the likelihood and an increase in the detection" of cross-contamination of a cell line.
Before putting the donated cell lines into storage, they are first proliferated and multiplied into a large number of identical cells before being stored in a number of cryovials. These cryovials are then placed into a tray, which is labeled with the genetic line data and then they are all frozen in "the liquid or vapor phase of liquid nitrogen typically between -196 and -70 degrees Celsius". This temperature serves to stop all cell growth within the cryovials and preserves the cell lines. This stopping of the genetic line's growth is especially important for "non-continuous" cell lines that have a "limited number of cell divisions" before dying out.
Originally, scientists kept collections of cellular material for their own use, but not for the scientific community at large. The first person accredited with making a cell bank for widespread use was Kral, a Czechoslovakian scientist who created his cell bank collection in the late 1890s.
Currently, there are a large number of "culture collections and bioresource centers" that serve an individual part of the process of bioengineering. Some examples of these include the World Federation for Culture Collections and the International Society for Biological and Environmental Repositories. In January 2003, the UK Stem Cell Bank was established to serve as a central unit for specimen collection and human testing. The National Stem Cell Bank was established in October 2005 in Madison, Wisconsin in order to serve as a repository specifically for stem cell lines. It currently hosts 13 of the 21 stem cell lines that exist in the world and are listed on the Stem Cell Registry hosted by the National Institutes of Health.
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