After researching protocols for differentiation to pancreatic cells I have found a couple that use chemically defined medium. I have not tried these, but haven’t had much luck weaning cells from serum or other animal products in the past. Is your kit chemically defined? Have you seen any problems or even differences in the cells cultured with serum vs. those cultured without.

Answer

There is significant interest in many biological fields to move away from the use of serum and other undefined components in cell culture media. It is thought that removing undefined components will help reduce variability associated with lot-to-lot changes in the composition of these undefined components. In addition, stockpiling ‘good’ lots of serum can be a costly venture for smaller labs thus increasing the motivation to move towards more defined media. State-of-the-art human pluripotent stem cell maintenance media such as mTeSR™1 and TeSR™-E8™ are serum-free and defined formulations that promote robust feeder cell-independent expansion of human pluripotent stem cells in the undifferentiated state. The STEMdiff™ Pancreatic Progenitor Kit is likewise serum-free and defined. The most validated published protocols for the generation of pancreatic progenitor cells, such as those published by the ViaCyte group (Schulz et al., 2012), typically require the use of serum in early stages of the differentiation protocol. The STEMdiff™ Pancreatic Progenitor Kit was designed to mimic the performance of these established protocols but in the absence of serum. Together with our TeSR™ maintenance media, we are able to provide the user with a completely defined, serum-free workflow for the generation of pancreatic progenitor cells from human pluripotent stem cells.