The Serum Industry: Its Past, Present, and Future

Like many health-related industries, the animal serum industry continues to drive toward elevating its profile, evolving both its business and product transparency to better serve emerging biomedical market needs.

A male Axenia employee operates machinery to either load or unload palettes in the cold storage area.

Axenia BioLogix is driving the van, responding to the needs of future life science professionals to know everything from the health and diet of the animals (from which serum becomes a by-product) to how it is processed, to every chemical element it contains. This “need to know” is a welcome phenomenon for some manufacturers and a wake-up call for others.

With a rich past, serum remains at the forefront of biomedicine

For more than 80 years, sera have been widely used in the production of vaccines for both human and animal applications and is responsible for a number of history’s scientific biomedical breakthroughs, saving millions of lives. As far back as the 1940s, the use of animal sera in growing cells in-vitro has been key in the development of biotechnology. The injectable polio vaccine, developed by Jonas Salk in the early 1950s, was one of the first biologics mass-produced using cell culture techniques and played a significant role in reducing infection rates amongst children.

Animal-derived components continue to be critical to the production of many health-care related products and have never been directly linked to adverse impacts in humans.

Current realities are fueling a need for better yield

While there have been attempts to replace animal-derived sera with plant-based substitutes, the relatively new use of human serum in current cell therapies is fraught with issues surrounding high cost, low yield and even higher risks of contamination than those for animals. However those who care deeply about both the current realities as well as the future uses of animal serum are staying ahead of the curve by hewing to stringent guidelines that offer full disclosure in traceability as required by the International Serum Industry Association (ISIA).

Serum is in high demand globally and supply is a concern, but new developments in yield outcomes (such as Axenia BioLogix efforts in this regard) are helping to stem the shortage.

Close-up of a person wearing gloves and holding a pipette and pipette tray, standing just in front of a table with a large microscope and a few bottles of reddish-pink liquid off to the side
Computer-illustrated graphic of a man wearing a white lab coat standing next to palettes of cardboard boxes that are sitting in a refrigerated room, and he is pointing to them with his hand.

Looking ahead

With the increase in emerging gene therapies, the stage is set for an explosion of serum use as well as the urgency to ensure product gets to market in the most responsible ways. More individual researchers are focusing on cell-based assays (derived from previous cultures) rather than on animal models. This also underscores the need for more portfolios like these to exist. Axenia BioLogix is keen to help with that cause.

It takes a village to produce the purest, most transparent sera in the industry. Our team prides itself in offering the industry’s most complete full-service menu of services anywhere.