What comes to mind first when you think about the possibility of contamination in the lab? Is it the result of poor aseptic technique? Bacteria and viruses spreading across multiple cultures? The insidiousness of mycoplasma?
We’ve talked a lot about contamination of samples and how to keep your biological safety cabinets, incubators, and other equipment and consumables contaminant-free. But there’s another, painfully common risk we as researchers all face: cell line cross-contamination. It’s a big enough issue that it’s crossed into the mainstream, from The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, the bestseller by Rebecca Skloot, which profiled the woman behind HeLa cells and their inherent risk of cross-contamination to other cells, to a recent series from NPR.
No matter how carefully you handle your cultures once your work is underway, it won’t prevent misidentified or corrupted cultures from coming through the doors. The best way for researchers to protect their work—and by extension their reputations—is through consistent authentication practices.
Why resist authentication?
So why aren’t more of us adopting consistent best practices? And why are contaminated lines still readily available? We explore these issues in more detail in What’s in Your Cultures? New Recommendations Aim to Curb Cell Line Contamination, which covers the recent work of a task force charged with unpacking the causes and solutions to contaminated cell lines.
Fighting contamination is a constant battle, and we at Thermo Fisher Scientific are always striving to find new ways to help you prevent it. Being aware of all the ways your research can be at risk is the first step in an effective strategy to win that battle.
Take a deeper dive into contamination – watch our webinar Cell Culture Contamination: What You Don’t Know Can Cost You to find out how contamination can wreak havoc in your lab, and the steps you can take to prevent it.