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Misidentified and contaminated cell lines lead to faulty cancer science
Date:6/21/2012

AURORA, Colo. (June 20, 2012) -AURORA, COLO (June 20, 2012) -- Modern cancer therapies start in cells researchers compare cancer samples to healthy cells to discover how cancer is genetically different, and use cell lines to test promising new drugs. However, a University of Colorado Cancer Center study published this week in the journal Gynecologic Oncology shows that due to a high rate of contamination, misidentification and redundancy in widely available cell lines, researchers may be drawing faulty conclusions.

"I've seen faculty and graduate students leave my lab in tears when we discovered the cells on the label weren't the cells they were actually experimenting on," says Christopher Korch, PhD, investigator at the CU Cancer Center and director of the center's DNA Sequencing and Analysis Service, the paper's co-first author. "When you get a cell line, you have to look that gift horse in the mouth there's up to a 40 percent chance it's a Trojan horse, not what it says it is."

For example, the cell line known as HES has been widely used as a "normal" model of endometrial cells since its development in 1989. There are literally hundreds of papers that, for example, look for differences between endometrial cancer cells and these supposedly normal HES endometrial cells. Unfortunately, HES is not, in fact, an endometrial cell line. It's another cell line known as HeLa which was first derived from cervical cancer.

"In the past, the technology to check cell lines didn't exist and so you can't really blame past researchers. But today it's cheap, it's easy and the technology is widely available. There's no excuse to experiment on cells without first discovering what you're experimenting on. We've suggested that journals start requiring verification of cell lines as a prerequisite of publishing," says Andrew Bradford, PhD, CU Cancer Center investigator and associate professor in the CU School of Medicine Department of Obstetrics a
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Contact: Erika Matich
erika.matich@ucdenver.edu
303-524-2780
University of Colorado Denver
Source:Eurekalert

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