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cancer cells on agar - growing adherent cancer cells on agar plate (Jun/19/2005 )


I have a quick question that I was hoping someone here could help me with. I'm attempting to grow cancer cells (MCF-7 or KB or HeLa) on cell culture petri dishes with a very very thin layer of agar on the bottom (just enough to cover the plate).

It does not seem to be working - they are dying off. I think they are not adhering to the agar - even though it's only a thin layer. The agar is a simple 0.5% agar in PBS. So it's not toxic.

I have tried growing them with their normal media seeding at very high concentrations hoping that something will stick! But no luck.

The reason I need them to grow on the thin layer of the agar is not important. The point is that I need to find a way for them to grow but those little suckers won't. I know for cologenic assays, cells will often be grown on two layers of agar. But for my purposes, I need them to be a monolayer like when they are grown in their normal flasks.

One more thing, if anybody knows of a substance that cancer cells will grown on that acts much like agar - that would be just as helpful. It needs to be a substance that hardens and is somewhat porous like agar.

If anybody has any idea on how to help out, please e-mail me:



Please keep in mind the cells need to form a monolayer on top of the agar... that's why I can't really simply follow the cologenic assay protocol..

thanks again


Are you trying an anchorage independent assay? Looking for transformation? The only agar assay I have ever done is imbedding the cells in agar and seeing if they form anchorage independent colonies. And the MCF-7 don't grow in agar. Unless you do something to them, like drug select them multiple times.

If you are looking for and anchorage independent growth assay, I can help you out. If you are looking to coat your plates, I am not sure what you are trying to have happen in the end?