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Analytical Chemistry

NIST To Catalog Human Cell Lines

by Britt E. Erickson
February 13, 2012 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 90, ISSUE 7

The National Institute of Standards & Technology is calling for voluntary contributions of human cell lines used in biological and medical research. The agency plans to collect up to 1,500 cell lines and identify them by DNA markers called short tandem repeats. The data will be cataloged in a publicly accessible database hosted by the National Library of Medicine. The program seeks to alleviate growing concerns raised by the biomedical research community regarding mix-ups, cross-contamination, and misidentification of commonly used cell lines. “The use of misidentified cell lines in cancer and other biomedical research continues to occur, resulting in the possibility that a significant proportion of the literature describing studies employing cell lines may be misleading or even false,” NIST said in a Feb. 3 notice announcing the program. The database will allow researchers to characterize cell lines with an accepted standard so they can be confident they are working with cell lines of the desired origin.

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