Why is Cell Line Authentication so important in your research?


In early June 2015, PLOS Biology* revealed a shocking estimate: the United States spends approximately $28 billion per year on practically irreproducible preclinical research. One source of irreproducible or just plain misleading results that has cropped up frequently in modern life science research involves the sloppy or improper use of cell lines. The best reason to use proper third-party Cell Line Authentication should be the scientists’ (and the parent lab or institution’s) professional and personal desire to avoid wasted time and money, faulty conclusions, damaged reputations and bad science.

Another great reason is the fact that a growing list of top-tier, peer-reviewed publications now require cell line authentication for all research involving cell lines. This requirement grew out of a string of embarrassing retractions that became necessary as a result of studies that were subsequently found to have used incorrect, inappropriate, contaminated or misidentified cell lines.

Cell lines can be a reliable and relatively easy to obtain substitute for whole living organisms. However, these lab-grown cells are notorious for the ease with which they can become contaminated, and it turns out they also have an unsettling penchant for disguising or simply “forgetting” their true identities. In some recent instances, post-experimental analysis of cell cultures used as the main subject of a study revealed that they were either not good examples of the target cell line, or in some cases, were completely different from what the researchers thought they were.  An influential study described in a 2009 Nature editorial suggested that as many as 18-36% of ALL cell cultures are misidentified. Research is not cheap, and ruined reputations are not easy to repair, so it’s hardly surprising that the need for effective and accurate cell line authentication has become a hot topic for cell biologists and publications wishing to avoid expensive and embarrassing retractions.

If you are working with cell lines, how can you be sure that your samples really are what you think they are, and that they are free from cross contamination with other cell lines, mycoplasms or other unwanted guests, and that no unexpected genetic events have fundamentally changed their characteristics? The best approach is to tackle the problem “at both ends” by only using the most experienced and trusted sources, and by working with a reputable third party to perform an objective authentication of your culture. cell-culture.info can help you with both of these challenges. Using our network of partners, we can help you procure premium biospecimens and primary cells that have undergone rigorous quality control to ensure the researcher gets exactly what they expect, with no surprises. We can also provide fast, accurate independent cell line authentication; our partner’s detailed analysis verifies every cell line at multiple stages so the integrity of your study is not compromised.

Cell lines should be authenticated whenever any of the following occur, which can mean that authentication may need to occur several times during the research process:

·       A new cell line is being cultured or obtained

·      Again within the first week (or early stages) of a newly established cell line

·      Beginning a new experiment

·      Routinely throughout the experiment to ensure no contamination has occurred

·      Cell behavior seems have been altered during the course of experimentation, or results were not as expected

·      Prior to publication

·      In preparation of freezing/storing the cell line

Best of all, cell-culture.info can create custom packages of products and services that precisely meet your primary cell and cell line authentication needs so that you don’t have to waste valuable time trying to find different vendors for different parts of your workflow. We have done all that background research for you so that all you only have to deal with a single organization and get back into the lab as quickly as possible with total confidence that your research results will be scientific, valid and reproducible.

*Freedman LP, Cockburn IM, Simcoe TS (2015) The Economics of Reproducibility in Preclinical Research. PLoS Biol 13(6): e1002165. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1002165