Primary cells from the Breast Cancer Now Tissue Bank

Cell culture

What we do

Before applying please get in touch with us. The expert cell team at Barts will get back to you and arrange a time to discuss your requirements​ and if the Bank can fulfil them.

We are the only breast tissue bank in the UK offering primary cells isolated from human breast tissues. We also provide information and advice to researchers who would like to use primary cells.

Currently, we can offer tissue explants, organoids and purified populations of cells isolated from normal, high-risk, cancer-containing and malignant breast tissue. Some of the cell populations are suitable to be grown in culture and can be used successfully in a range of functional assays. Others are suitable for DNA, RNA or protein extraction. Currently, tumour epithelial cells are not suitable for culture assays.

Note: when providing cells, we can reserve samples of the same batch, so that should you require further vials these will be available.

Cell types available from:

normal: cosmetic reduction mammoplasty
prophylactic mastectomy:
genetic/family history
contralateral: tumour in other breast
DCIS surround: ≥5cm from DCIS edge
tumour: invasive carcinoma
adjacent to tumour: ≤2cm from
tumour edge
tumour surround: ≥5cm from tumour edge.

Sample types available:

live explants (typically 10 per vial)
mixed cell preparations
purified cell types for tissue culture
cell pellets from purified cell types
DNA, RNA extracts
cytoblocks from isolated cell populations.

Bespoke service

We have tissue and cell stocks available, but we are interested in discussing prospective preparations or collections as required. We can provide advice on:

  • the choice of cells for your studies
  • guidelines for the handling and culturing of each cell type
  • details of preferred growth media
  • comprehensive protocols for specific applications
  • planning your experiments and estimating costs for grant applications
  • availability of reserved cell batches.

Please email us at with any questions about our service.

Please see our costs page for costs of cells.