Culture Collections

NCTC strains in modern research

Microorganisms and cell lines available from PHE’s Culture Collections are regularly used as characterised controls and in modern research. The research community uses bacterial strains to address questions surrounding the origin and development of antimicrobial resistance in the UK. For example, a study led by scientists at the University of Cambridge used whole genome sequencing and bioinformatics analysis to characterise Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecalis (VREfs) isolates from UK hospitals.

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Call for research applications to the PHE-MOHS Ebola Biobank

Application for access to the Ebola virus for use in research is now open via the PHE-MOHS Ebola Biobank. During the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone in 2014-15, residual clinical specimens and accompanying data were collected from routine diagnostic testing in Public Health England (PHE) led laboratories. Approximately 10,000 samples of which 1,440 are positive for Ebola have been transferred to PHE laboratories in the UK for curation.

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Use of NCTC 3000 WGS data to evaluate bioinformatics tool, HINGE

NCTC 3000 is a collaborative whole genome sequencing project being undertaken jointly between the Culture Collections of Public Health England and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. This Wellcome Trust funded project aims to sequence the genomes of 3,000 type and reference strains of bacteria from NCTC. Recently data from the project was used to evaluate and assess a new long read bioinformatics assembling tool for repeat resolution within sequences obtained, named HINGE.

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Why Choose Us?

Public Health England (PHE) is the custodian of four unique collections that consist of expertly preserved, authenticated cell lines and microbial strains of known provenance for use in medical science and laboratory healthcare.

All the collections are developed, managed and maintained by highly trained, dedicated staff who work in accordance with internationally recognised quality standards including certification to ISO 9001:2008.

Cultures from the collections are used by scientists who need to reassure themselves and others that the materials they are using are authentic, so the conclusions to their studies are valid and relevant. This is particularly important where research may lead to peer-reviewed publications, for example, in drug discovery and vaccine efficacy studies. Authenticated reference strains are also of paramount importance for clinical diagnostic testing, food, water and environmental microbiology testing and validation studies.

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Cell lines

The European Collection of Authenticated Cell Cultures (ECACC) maintains and supplies over 40,000 cell lines and their derivatives such as DNA, RNA and cDNA.





The National Collection of Type Cultures (NCTC) maintains and supplies over 5000 bacteria and mycoplasma strains.





The National Collection of Pathogenic Viruses (NCPV) maintains and supplies over 700 viruses and viral nucleic acid.





The National Collection of Pathogenic Fungi (NCPF) maintains and supplies over 4000 fungal strains.


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