15.04.2021 duration: 3 min

CHO cells – 7 facts you didn’t yet know

If you are working in a lab or general pharmaceutical environment, you will most likely not only have heard about CHO cells but also know at least the basics like:

CHO cells are a fascinating matter, which is why we have compiled a list of interesting facts that go beyond the obvious and will give you a better understanding of what, why and how. 

Fact #1 – The ancient roots of CHO cells

Where do CHO cells come from you may ask. Well, one would think that the name gives it away: Chinese hamster ovary cells are derived from the mammal with the same name, the Chinese hamster, or cricetulus griseus

Researchers have found their cell structure to be similar to that of the human body, which is why their cells are regarded as an ideal tool in the development and production of pharmaceuticals

To that end they are generated and modified in labs – and here is another benefit and little-known fact: They have a fantastic yield, adding to their allure.

Fact #2 – CHO cells and their tremendous yield

True to their reputation of being real powerhouses, Chinese hamster ovary cells offer a fantastic yield and can produce recombinant protein on a scale of 3-10 grams per liter of CHO cells culture when cultured and grown in a controlled environment. 

However, besides reproductivity they also score with some other pretty cool qualities, one of which is their longevity.

afucosylated monoclonal antibody expression by evitria

Fact #3 – CHO cells are not immortal

But is it actually true that CHO are cells immortal? Well, while they are tiny yet tough, they are not “immortal”. Much rather, they are what is called “immortalized”. We all know what it means to be immortal – but how about immortalized?

One of the key requirements of CHO cells is that they must be able to survive and proliferate in vitro – in other words, outside of the body and in a lab environment, which, simply put, translates to being “immortalized”.

The name stems from the cells’ apparent ability to be cultured indefinitely. Okay then, so CHO cells can be multiplied infinitely. But what are they actually used for?

Fact #4 – Utilization of CHO cells

In case you wonder why we use CHO cells, then the answer – for once – is rather simple. They are one of the primary cells utilized in the research and manufacturing of 

  • biotherapeutics
  • antibodies
  • active pharmaceutical ingredients

As already mentioned, they offer a fantastic yield, which is obviously key in any market-driven industry. But surely this cannot be enough to make them such a popular choice?

Fact #5 – CHO cells and their similarity to the human cell system

No, offering a fantastic yield is not enough in today’s tough and contested markets; neither is being versatile and resilient. Much rather, it is their similarity to the human cell system that makes CHO cells such a popular tool for genetic studies, toxicity screening as well as nutrition and gene expression. 

As such, they form the vital basis for a vast number of applications and are perfect tools for research and development. 

Fact #6 – CHO cells, tiny but excellent

One of the most astonishing facts about CHO cells is their size – or actually the lack thereof. You may wonder: How big is a CHO cell? 

With a size measured in micrometers or μm – yes, that’s 0.001 millimeters – Chinese hamster ovary cells are infinitesimal. Interesting fact: Their size is decreasing rather than increasing over time, which, however, does not detract from their naturally powerful qualities.

Fact #7 – CHO cells are adherent … and so much else

To start out with we should define what “adherent” actually means: Adherent cells have to be attached to a surface in order to grow, while on-adherent cells grow in solution.

Such cell types can be subcultured by simply taking a small volume of the parent culture and diluting it in a fresh growth medium. But to get back to the heart of the matter: CHO cells are adherent and can also be grown in suspension.

Conclusion: The benefits of antibody expression in CHO

After reading this article it should be pretty clear why we as evitria utilize the benefits that CHO cells have to offer. We are a leading service provider for recombinant antibody expression in CHO cells for a reason (or a number thereof). 

We take a natural product and grow it according to our customers’ specifications in record time. All the benefits listed above only help us achieve the best possible quality, so you can get to work and turn our CHO cells into something even more powerful in your biotherapeutics or antibody production.

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