Harnessing the potential of genetics and epigenetics for new therapeutics and diagnostics


 History of Cell Line Contamination       

Unintentional cell line contamination has been known to be a problem since the first immortalized human cell line, HeLa (cervical adenocarcinoma; created in 1951), was introduced into labs around the world (1).  HeLa, known for its aggressive and fast growing properties was found to have contaminated many of the newly created immortalized cell lines in the 1960’s but source labs were hesitant to accept the information (2).  Cell lines, known to be HeLa, continue to circulate and be used in publications as tissue/cancer types that they do not represent (see full list of misidentified cell lines here - http://iclac.org/databases/cross-contaminations/; more than 100 cell lines on this list of over 450 misidentified cell lines are contaminated with HeLa).  One example on this list is the cell line “Int407” – initially thought to have been created from intestinal tissue, it was identified in 1967 as being one of the many HeLa-contaminated cell lines, yet researchers continue to utilize “Int407” as a model for normal intestinal tissue (PubMed search).

1. Gey GO, et al.  Cancer Research 12: 264-265 (1952)

2. Gartler, SM. Second Decennial Review Conference on Cell Tissue and Organ Culture: 167-195 (1967)