Case Studies

Does it matter if a cell line is misidentified?

When a scientist chooses a cell line for their work, they make that choice for a reason.

A scientist may only need human cells for their work.  But usually their needs will be more specific.  They may choose a cell line because it comes from the lung, or because it comes from breast cancer and carries a specific genetic mutation.

If a cell line is misidentified, any of its characteristics can be affected.  The cell line may not come from lung or breast.  It may not even be human.

The only thing we know with certainty is what it is not: a misidentified cell line is not from the original donor.

Working with misidentified cell lines affects the reliability and reproducibility of all research in the life sciences – including medical research.

The impact extends to every scientist that reads about a misidentified cell line in the scientific literature, and then uses that cell line as the basis for their own work.

The case studies in this section explore why misidentified cell lines matter, and the impact they can have on the scientific literature.

What should scientists do to avoid this problem?  Authentication testing, and overall Good Cell Culture Practice, will help to make your work reliable and reproducible.

Further Reading – Good Cell Culture Practice
Advice to Scientists: Incorporating Authentication into Everyday Culture Practice