We’ve written before about how common cell line mix ups are in cancer research; according to a 2012 Wall Street Journal article (paywalled), between a fifth and a third of cancer cell lines tested by suspicious researchers turned out to be misidentified.
Obviously, mistakenly studying the wrong kind of cancer is a waste of precious resources, both time and money. And it’s clear the problem hasn’t gone away. PLoS ONE just retracted a cancer paper originally published in December 2012 for studying two cell lines that had been contaminated by other cell types.
Here’s the notice for “Epithelial Mesenchymal Transition Is Required for Acquisition of Anoikis Resistance and Metastatic Potential in Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma”:
The authors retract this publication due to concerns about the cell lines employed in the study.
The study reports experiments looking at pathways involved in anoikis resistance in human adenoid cystic carcinoma; the experiments involved the use of the cell lines ACCM and ACC2. After the publication of the article, a reader raised concerns that these two cell lines may not originate from adenoid cystic carcinoma. The authors have completed a short tandem repeat analysis on the cell lines and this has revealed cross-contamination with other human cells, which compromises the relevance of the work to human adenoid cystic carcinoma, and thus the conclusions of the study.
In the light of this, the authors retract this publication.
PLOS ONE deputy editor Iratxe Puebla tells Retraction Watch:
The concerns about the article were raised by a reader who posted a comment noting that the ACC2 and ACCM cell lines employed in the study had been determined to be HeLa cells, the comment is available here: http://www.plosone.org/annotation/listThread.action?root=80291. We followed up with the authors to request information regarding the characterization of the cell lines employed in the study. The authors submitted the cells for STR analysis, which revealed cross contamination.
The paper has been cited seven times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.
Hat tip: Rolf Degen