Ever since the first successful isolation of frog nerve fibers, the practice of cell culture has evolved tremendously. Today, it has become an integral part of biomedicines and biotherapeutics; however, scientists are still struggling with a number of challenges, right from its lack of reproducibility to contaminated cell lines; which needs special assessments with a number of quality control procedures.
Quality control in cell culture is a process through which accurate identification of cultured cells has become possible. The accurate quality control procedure ensures that all the cells isolated from human tissues and/or mammalian tissues are of superior quality, in their optimized growth phase, and without any quality compromise. This becomes an absolutely difficult task when there are no defined guidelines for the same, thus quality control procedures can vary in different laboratories, depending upon understanding and availability of results. It has been rightly believed that the cell culture and relevant quality control procedures are like black art, with everyone having their own preferred methods. ‘
Almost any type of cell culture can become infected by the mycoplasma, during any phase of their growth. There is a number of reasons for mycoplasma contamination, anything right from the wrong use of culture vessels, inappropriate handling by users, expired consumables, etc. It is interesting to know that mycoplasma is often resistant to different antibiotics. The studies have suggested that almost 10% of the cell lines get contaminated with mycoplasma. Currently available methods of mycoplasma detection like PCR and/or ELISA are either time-consuming or expensive; and thus not ideal. Fortunately, the global mycoplasma market is expected to rise exponentially, using right techniques that are cheaper as well as efficient.
The wrong cell lines
Currently, scientists are also facing issues with cell line authentication. It is rather easy for cell lines to be contaminated with immortal cell cultures like HeLa cells. There is a recent publication, stating that almost about 30000 scientific articles are being published using wrong cell lines and wrong data. This number suggests the replication crisis the globe is facing currently. Although scientists do understand that it is an honest mistake, the concern is more serious due to faulty research data i.e. not possible to reproduce. But how do we correct our mistakes from the past literature, one solution would be to put a disclaimer that the data presented was using the wrong cell lines. However, it is certainly not a glamorous site of cell culture and needs a more detailed explanation about quality control procedures that are required to be followed.
Thus, for good quality control maintenance, the following procedures are to be followed:
Reagents and materials
These are the potential sources of contamination, particularly bovine serum albumin and porcine trypsin. It is always suggested to get good quality reagents and consumables from renowned manufacturers and their authorized dealers; to avoid further hassles.
Cell line integrity and identification
The sourcing of cell lines is an important aspect of quality control parameters. Freshly isolated cells and imported from different manufacturers can be a major source of contamination. The advantage of obtaining cells from reputed sources is that cells can be contamination-free, authenticated by the use of short tandem repeat profiling and other molecular assessments, and are also supplied with the help of detailed datasheets.