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Incorrect Cell Lines Used for Worldwide Cancer Research
Date:1/14/2010

But tumor-type mixups don't necessarily negate findings, experts say

THURSDAY, Jan. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Cancer researchers rely on specific tumor cell lines when developing new treatments, but those samples aren't always what they're advertised to be, a Dutch team reports.

Their study found that three of 13 human esophageal cancer cell lines widely used for worldwide research were actually cell lines from lung, colorectal and other malignancies.

Two of the contaminated or misidentified cell lines were involved in research published in more than 100 papers and in the issuance of 11 U.S. patents, which led to clinical trials in patients.

One of those trials involved testing the drug Nexavar (sorafenib) on patients with Barrett-related esophageal adenocarcinoma. Nexavar is approved for kidney and liver cancer but not yet for this indication.

While earlier-phase studies using these cell lines are still "scientifically sound," the clinical trials should be revisited, said Winand N.M. Dinjens, senior author of a short paper published online Jan. 14 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute and head of molecular diagnostics in the department of pathology at the Josephine Nefkens Institute, University Medical Center Rotterdam in The Netherlands.

"Widespread use of contaminated cell lines threatens the development of treatment strategies for EAC," he and his colleagues wrote.

Other experts expressed less concern, saying the unintentional misidentification or contamination of the cell lines is not critical and is even a fairly common occurrence.

"From the scientific point of view, it's not a huge deal, but it's certainly something you're glad you found out," said Charles Saxe, scientific director of the Program in Cancer Cell Biology and Metastasis at the American Cancer Society in Atlanta. "This probably doesn't surprise anybody. The surprise is probably that there w
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