Innovation and Partnerships Office

Basal Media for Culturing Epithelial Cells 2015-009


Growing primary human epithelial cells for

  • Pharmaceutical development
  • Toxicology
  • Biotechnology research


  • Regular and consistent formulation
  • Superior growth for 1/12 of the price
  • Up to 60 population doublings
  • Can sustain long term cultures


Researchers at Berkeley Lab have developed a low cost technology for growing primary human epithelial cells (HEC) for as much as 60 population doublings, for longer than a month, all while maintaining low stress conditions that preserve lineage heterogeneity and normal phenotypes. The basal media developed, M87A-BM, was optimized for human mammary epithelia and can be further mixed with supplements for long-term culturing purposes.

The alternative commercially available options for HEC culturing are expensive and their composition is usually proprietary, making regularity and consistency of the formulation an issue. These alternatives also have a limited proliferative potential of 3 to 15 population doublings before encountering stress-associated senescence barriers in mammary epithelial cells. This Berkeley Lab technology’s low-cost and superior HEC growth conditions will allow extensive and more precise exploration of human epithelial cells and exploration of the transformation process that leads to malignant cells.

DEVELOPMENT STAGE: Proven principle. Growth rate and morphological features of normal HEC from mammary gland cultured in M87A media using new M87A-BM formulation was identical or better than growth in control basal media from commercially available M171 (or MEGM) mixed with DMEM/F12 in a 1:1 ratio.

STATUS: Patent pending. Available for licensing or collaborative research.


Long-term Growth of Finite Life Span Normal Human Epithelial Cells, IB-2077

Tracking and Quantifying Organization of Epithelial Cells, IB-2903