• Cell lines are grown in laboratories worldwide to help us understand how normal cells function and how disease happens.
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  • Every cell line has a story.  The donor of that cell line and the scientists who established it are all part of that story.
  • For some cell lines, we lose track of the story.  Misidentified cell lines no longer correspond to the original donor and may come from an entirely different species, tissue or disease.
  • Cell lines become misidentified through cross-contamination, mislabelling, or other laboratory errors.  The problem was uncovered by Stanley Gartler and Walter Nelson-Rees in the 1960s and 1970s.
  • More than 400 misidentified cell lines are now known.  Using these cell lines – without knowing their true story – results in chaos and confusion in the scientific literature.
  • The International Cell Line Authentication Committee (ICLAC) is a voluntary group of scientists that works to increase awareness of misidentified cell lines.
  • ICLAC curates a database of known misidentified cell lines.  Scientists should check the database before they start work with a new cell line, to see if that cell line is known to be misidentified.
  • Misidentified cell lines can be detected by authentication testing.  Scientists should test their cell lines using an accepted consensus method, such as short tandem repeat (STR) profiling.
  • Good Cell Culture Practice – including authentication testing – is essential if cell lines are to be good models for health and disease.
  • Every cell line has a story.  That story is important if we are to make research using cell lines more reliable and reproducible.What story does your sample tell?
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Cancer Moonshot

The Cancer Moonshot needs a Reproducibility Toolkit that includes cell line authentication. Read ICLAC's Cancer Moonshot letter.

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ICLAC’s list of cross-contaminated or otherwise misidentified cell lines can be found here.

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How can You Help?

How can authentication testing be improved? Share your experiences through the ICLAC Resources for Authentication Testing survey.

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ICLAC is an independent committee with support from the scientific community. Thank you to ICLAC Members and Partner Organizations for your support.