An encyclopedia serves many functions. The word itself exposes the multiplicity of its purposes. While it seeks to be all encompassing (as it encycles) it also takes us on a journey whereby we both discover new ideas and extend our learning experiences. (Rather in the manner of a child being exposed to the 'circle of knowledge' in Greek times.) The editors and authors of this work have followed such a tradition, and have sought to provide readers with a state-of-the-art compilation of information, ideas, procedures and guidelines so that they may enhance their abilities and understandings of cell technology. This in turn should lead to both new processes and products as well as increases in the productivity and efficiency of existing processes dependent on the cultivation of animal and plant cells.
In both the history of the origin of the idea of the cellularity of all living beings (with the exception of the viruses, plasmids and nucleic acid molecules) and the history of how we might view the way cells emerged from a proto-earth some 4 billion years ago, the pervasive synergism between the concepts generated in the animal cell world and those rising from the plant cell world have led us to our present world view. This reciprocating reinforcement of views, visions and experimental observations has been one of the crucial features of the way knowledge and capability have advanced as rapidly as is related in these pages. To maintain this rapid rate of progress, this encyclopedia has been built about the concept of the facilitation and encouragement of the transference of ideas and practical processes between the animal and plant cell technologies. The editors hold that, in spite of some overlap of these areas, the differences between them are such as to stimulate and promote the use of assays or techniques which have worked in one area, say, animal cell technology, in the corresponding area of plant cell technology: and vice versa.
We have progressed considerably in the last 100 years. From the tentative experiments in the last decade of the 19th century to the large scale commercially successful technologies of the last decade of the 20th century we can discern a dramatic transformation. Not only have we been able to all but eliminate the exogenous contamination of cultures but the equipment which we now deploy is robust, reliable and can be used to achieve a predefined outcome within relatively close tolerance limits and with a high degree of consistency. And the scope of those capabilities has widened. Whereas initial experimentation with cells in culture was clearly focused on the solution of intellectual problems of a preponderantly analytic nature, concerning anatomy and physiology (plus or minus the biochemistry), the thrust of the modern endeavors has been more synthetic and has resulted in a welter of new product areas and opportunities.
Plant cell culturists struggled with the in vitro axenic growth of cells for many years before the advent of antibiotics. During this time they were able to define simple nutrient media and to examine the physiology of cells under controlled conditions. While the early uses of plant cells in culture echoed the cloning procedures which could be applied to whole plants, the development of the techniques for the establishment of uncontaminated callus cultures, which could then be used to either form plantlets or a bulk culture of monodisperse suspension cells or clumps, became a useful technology in the 1960s. The extension of the techniques of in vitro orchid cultivation to that of tree plantlet propagation in the 1980s has become a platform from which an effective reforestation program can be mounted. The successful and commercial production of a secondary metabolite (shikonin) from large scale suspension cultures was achieved in 1983. Currently, the use of plant cell cultures for the production of the anticancer drugs based on taxol is receiving much attention as well as the production of a diverse array of plant cell enzymes, perfumes and additional pharmaceuticals. From a virtually exclusive concentration on the use of animal cells in culture for the production of virus vaccines in the 1950s to 1970s, the introduction of two new technologies set in train an expansion of effort leading to a corresponding burgeoning of the commercially manufactured product profile. Following Kohler and Millstein's demonstration of the production of monoclonal antibodies from hybridoma cells in 1975 and the way in which animals cells in culture might be genetically engineered in the late 1970s, a second wave of products reached the market place. More recently the use of animal cells in culture as replacements for animals in toxicity testing has received much attention. And the original idea of Carrel in 1913 of using human organs grown in culture to replace pathological tissues is moving from the concept stage to the realization. In parallel with these recent developments, the use of animal cells to produce the adeno- and lenti- viruses which are the principle candidates for the vectors of the genetic therapeutics of whole animals and humans is beginning to show signs of becoming a major animal cell technology application. The pluripotency (if not totipotency) of human embryo stem cells may be further explored to provide replacement cells for defunct tissues if, and when, the ethical issues, which the use of such cells engenders, may be resolved.
It is the clear intention of the editors and authors of this work to provide readers with a powerful new tool which will enable them to more skillfully and rapidly achieve their goals. As a comprehensive resource of information and process techniques most practitioners active in the field will find in these pages something which is both fresh and helpful to their personal endeavors. Students and researchers entering this area for the first time will be able obtain an essential overview of what is available and where further information can be found. We have done everything we can to make the material of this encyclopedia both accessible and of benefit to its users. The outcome we seek is the continued and more extensive development of these areas. For from such a venture we are confident that we can continue to bring to the plants, animals and humans of this planet much for their progress and advantage.
Ray E. Spier
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