Another serious issue with the overuse of antibiotics and antifungals is with the reproducibility of data. The overuse of antibiotics and antifungals can result in a lower proliferation rate of cells, alteration or complete reduction of specific protein synthesis, and general cytotoxicity of the culture. These factors will result in variations in data generated from lab to lab. Keeping antibiotics and antifungals in culture media is often rationalized by scientists as another layer of protection from unwanted microbes. However, antibiotics and antifungals in culture media can be a crutch and encourage the cutting of corners in aseptic technique.
Simple steps in the appropriate direction for healthy cultures without antibiotics or antifungals include vigilant aseptic technique inculding working in biosafety hoods, appropriate personal protection, sterilizing all instrumentation used, and spraying hands with 70% often. All cultures should be procured from reputable sources (national cell banks) that use stringent quality control practices to ensure sterility of the line upon receiving. Finally, screening for mycoplasma should be performed periodically including prior to banking cells, executing larger studies, and upon receiving cells from a new source/ vendor.
-Nick Hibbard, Director, Laboratory Operations, IONTOX.