Eradication of cross-contaminated cell lines: A call for action
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This “white paper” was prepared and widely disseminated in an attempt to sound an alarm about the long-term existence of a grave, unresolved and growing problem that affects a significant portion of biomedical research, namely, the use of misidentified and cross-contaminated cell cultures. The “white paper” shows how bold action could bring about a profession-wide change in practice that would prevent further erosion. Misidentification and inter- and intra-specific cross-contamination of mammalian cell cultures used in research continues as a widespread problem despite an awareness that dates back more than 45 years. Awareness of the problem has led to a good understanding of the causes of cross-contamination and appropriate preventive measures. It has also led to the application of robust methods for the authentication of cell lines. Yet the problem continues unabated. Estimates of the incidence of research papers flawed by the use of misidentified and cross-contaminated cell cultures approximate 15–20%. The gravity of the situation calls for a strategy that would deliver a remedial message of authentication to virtually all cell culture researchers and also ensure compliance with the message. At the core of the strategy proposed herein is having cell line authentication as a condition for the award of research grants and for the publication of research findings.