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The use of cultured cells is an invaluable component of biomedical research, providing the ability to interrogate mechanistic pathways based on cell type specificity, or disease relevance, by allowing system simplification. The practice also empowers researchers to develop disease-relevant assays and screens for identification and development of novel disease-modifying therapeutics. Misidentification, cross contamination, microbial contamination and genetic abnormalities introduced through extended time in culture can alter the cellular responses and create a disconnection between relevant cell type or disease state-specific phenotypes and the cell line being utilized, compromising results and setting research timelines back.
To address these issues, the NIH recently released changes to its funding and grant submission application instructions. Perhaps most importantly, this enhancement focuses on regular authentication of cell line identity in an effort to improve reproducibility of scientific results in peer-reviewed literature, while also aiming to reduce the number of retracted articles structured around contaminated lines. As a direct result, an increasing number of journals (BioTechniques, Cell Biochemistry and Biophysics, In Vitro Cellular & Developmental Biology - Animal, International Journal of Cancer, journals of the American Association for Cancer Research) have adopted authentication policies.
The Coriell Institute for Medical Research has used Short Tandem Repeat (STR) markers to establish the identity of all cell lines produced by and submitted to Coriell for nearly 20 years. We employ the AmpFLSTR® Identifiler® Plus PCR Amplification Kit from ThermoFisher, which applies 16 STR, including amelogenin for sex identification and the core 10 ANSI standard STRs recommended for cell line authentication.
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