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Sourcing of Cell Lines

Cook Book Sept 2010 Volume 12

Fundamental Techniques in Cell Culture Laboratory Handbook-2nd Edition

Large numbers of cell lines look identical. Cell lines with very different origins and biological characteristics typically cannot be separated on grounds of morphology or culture characteristics. Infection or contamination of a cell line with an adventitious virus or mycoplasma may significantly change the characteristics of the cells but again such contamination may not be apparent. Cell lines will also change with time in culture, and to add to all these natural hazards it is all too easy to incorrectly label or crosscontaminate different cell lines in a busy cell culture laboratory.

The opportunities for inadvertently introducing error into a cell line are limitless and ever present. It is in the nature of the science that once introduced, an error will be propagated, compounded, consolidated and disseminated.

The integrity and biological characteristics of a cell line have to be actively maintained by a well organised management system based on systematic cell banking supported by testing regimens in a structured quality assured environment. Such a controlled environment will only prevail in a dedicated professionally organised cell culture laboratory or cell bank. A small research laboratory with a high throughput of short-term research students, a minimum of permanent laboratory staff and no formal quality management programme will find it difficult to maintain its cell lines unchanged over many years.

For all these reasons it is strongly recommended that new cell lines should only be acquired from a specialist, reputable culture collection such as ECACC. Moreover, if a laboratory believes it already has a certain cell line in its liquid nitrogen store, the identity and purity of such a cell line should be questioned in the absence of a well recorded culture history and recent test data. If there is a doubt, it is straightforward and cost effective to replace such cell stocks with authenticated material from a Culture Collection.

When a Culture Collection acquires a new cell line it will characterise the cell line using techniques such as isoenzyme analysis and DNA profiling so that the identity of the cell line subsequently can be verifi ed. The Collection will then establish a hierarchy of Master and Working cell banks, cryopreserved in liquid nitrogen, that are demonstrated free from microbial contamination including mycoplasma. Customers are supplied from the authenticated Working Cell Banks (WCB). Replacement WCBs are manufactured from the original Master Cell Bank (MCB) and the new WCB will again be fully tested.

ECACC supplies its cell lines with advice on how to maintain the line. The technical support team can subsequently assist with diffi culties and provide additional technical information about the cell line. Culture Collections exist to ensure that animal cell research is conducted using standardised, authenticated material that ensures the work can be reproduced. An authenticated cell line of known provenance is the very bedrock of any cell based project. See p.35 for more info on cell lines available from ECACC.

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Did You Know?

The European Collection of Cell Cultures (ECACC) is one of the world’s largest Biological Resource Centres supplying a diverse range of authenticated cell lines.

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