18 October 2017

Uninvited guests

The results of more than 30,000 biomedical publications may be incorrect

Natalia Pelezneva, Naked Science

Researchers from the University of Nijmegen in the Netherlands analyzed scientific articles found using the Web of Science search platform and came to the conclusion: the results of more than 30,000 papers may be distorted. In these studies, cell lines were used that could transfer cross-contamination, that is, "mix" with cells of other lines. The authors of the new work do not claim that the results of all these articles are incorrect. This only means that careful data verification is necessary when preparing research for publication.

The article The ghosts of HeLa: How cell line misidentification contaminates the scientific literature is published in the journal PLoS ONE.

The basis for the study was the Register of potentially Misinterpreted Cell Lines (Register of Misidentified Cell Lines) compiled by the International Cell Line Authentication Committee ICLAC (International Cell Line Authentication Committee). Today, the registry includes 451 cell lines, in the case of which it is not possible to find the original source. The authors of the study analyzed the articles found using the Web of Science search platform, which combines several databases of scientific papers. The scientists found 32,755 papers, in the preparation of which they used potentially "contaminated" cell cultures specified in the registry.

Number of publications with questionable lines / © PLoS ONE

Scientists working with cell cultures often face the problem of cross-contamination. It affects, for example, the "immortal" cells of the famous HeLa line. Scientists obtained the first cells of this line in 1951 from a cancerous tumor of the cervix. "Immortal" cells can divide many times, the tissue from them grows very quickly – this makes them a convenient material for research. When "contaminated", cells of other lines enter the culture. This can happen if the rules of working with culture are violated: for example, if the same container of a reagent was used when working with different cultures. Cross-contamination distorts the conditions of experience. For example, colorectal cancer researchers may, without knowing it, work with tumor cells of a different type.

The authors of the new work propose to label articles created on the basis of experiments with potentially "contaminated" cell lines. The researchers believe that their work will help draw attention not only to the importance of checking the results, but also to the circumstances that make it difficult. In particular, many companies may refuse additional checks in order not to lose revenue due to unsuccessful experiments.

Portal "Eternal youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru

Found a typo? Select it and press ctrl + enter Print version