Policy ForumCell Biology

Fixing problems with cell lines

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Science  19 Dec 2014:
Vol. 346, Issue 6216, pp. 1452-1453
DOI: 10.1126/science.1259110

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Summary

Despite the important role of cell culture in the study of biology and medicine, evidence has accumulated that cell lines are frequently misidentified or contaminated by other cells or microorganisms. This can be a substantial problem in many fields, such as cancer research, where drugs are initially tested using a cell line derived from the targeted type of tumor (1). If a drug is tested on the wrong cell line, research can lead to unreliable results, and discovery of effective treatments can be delayed. Even in basic research, use of mistaken cell lines can hinder progress because of variations in cell behavior among different cell types. Given these concerns, developing corrective measures for cell line misidentification and contamination warrants renewed attention.