cell interface-dreamstime_9166178

Ever since researchers started to dream of uncovering the ‘complete’ genetic makeup of an organism – the genome – the number of ‘omes‘ has been increasing at a staggering rate.

Now this isn’t anything to do with Hinduism and the symbol Om (although its link to the unknowable is perhaps at times somewhat poignant). The story started with the biome – any major regional biological community such as that of a forest or desert – and slowly started to spread to other fields.

So now we have genomes, proteomes, transcriptomes, interactomes – the list is seemingly endless.  And now researchers from pharma giant Eli Lilly have defined yet another ‘ome’ this time the fermentome. They describe the fermentome as a way of quantifying the ‘non-protein feed components and metabolites in mammalian cell cultures’.

But why would anyone want to do this?  Well, unfortunately it’s not for brewing beer, but rather for studying cell culture media and how it is affected by growing the cells that are used to create biological drugs such as antibodies and therapeutic proteins.

To do this, the researchers used a one dimensional 1H NMR method to study a culture of Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells engineered to produce an antibody ‘currently in development’.

The researchers found that after a period of six days the CHO cells’ productivity declined and they traced this back to the depletion of histidine from the culture – demonstrating the need to monitor its concentration during production.

The researchers say the technique is generally applicable to other mammalian cell lines.

Matt Wilkinson

S. A. Bradley et al., J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2010, DOI: 10.1021/ja101962c

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