Minimum Essential Medium (MEM), developed by Harry Eagle, is one of the most widely used synthetic cell culture media. Early attempts to cultivate normal mammalian fibroblasts and certain subtypes of HeLa cells revealed that they had specific nutritional requirements that could not be met by Eagle's Basal Medium (BME). Subsequent studies using these and other cells in culture indicated that additions to BME could be made to aid the growth of a wider variety of fastidious cells.
MEM, which incorporates these modifications, includes higher concentrations of amino acids so it more closely approximates the protein composition of mammalian cells. Glucose is typically present in MEM at a concentration of around 4-5 mM. MEM also contains other essential nutrients such as vitamins and minerals to support cell growth, but does not contain certain key components such as proteins, lipids, and growth factors. It may require supplementation with fetal bovine serum (FBS) to support cell growth and viability.
MEM is formulated to be similar to the body's natural fluids and has been used for cultivation of a wide variety of cells grown in monolayers. Optional supplementation of MEM that incorporate either Hanks' or Earle's salts has broadened the usefulness of this medium. The formulation has been further modified by the optional elimination of calcium, which aids the growth of cells in suspension.
MEM is an important tool in many areas of scientific research, including tissue engineering, drug discovery, and the study of cell biology. It is widely used in cell culture because it is relatively inexpensive and easy to use, and it has been shown to support the growth of a variety of cell types.
MEM and DMEM are two commonly used cell culture media and the key difference between the two is the nutrient composition. DMEM, or Dulbecco's Modified Eagle Medium, is a more complex media with increased concentrations of amino acids and vitamins that support the growth and maintenance of certain cell types. Cells will grow faster and deplete the medium slower in DMEM.
MEM is a basic cell culture media, composed of the minimum concentrations of nutrients required for the growth of the culture. While both media are widely used, it is important to choose the appropriate medium based on the specific needs of the cells that are being cultured.
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