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In vitro (Latin: (with)in the glass) refers to the technique of performing a given experiment in a test tube, or, generally, in a controlled environment outside a living organism. In vitro fertilization is a well-known example of this. Many experiments in cellular biology are conducted outside organisms or cells; thus, the conditions and, therefore, results may not correspond to those inside. Consequently, experimental results are often annotated with in vitro or its opposite in vivo as it applies.
In vitro research[edit | edit source]
This type of research aims at describing the effects of an experimental variable on a subset of an organism's constituent parts. It tends to focus on organs, tissues, cells, cellular components, proteins, and/or biomolecules. Overall, it is better suited for deducing the mechanisms of action (See in vivo for its description and respective merits). With fewer variables and perceptually amplified reactions to subtle causes, results are, generally, more discernible.
The massive adoption of low-cost in vitro molecular biology techniques has caused a shift away from in vivo research which is more idiosyncratic and expensive in comparison to its molecular counterpart. Currently, in vitro research is both vital and highly productive.