Cultured cell lines have become an extremely valuable resource, both in academic research and in industrial biotechnology. However, their value is frequently compromised by misidentification and undetected microbial contamination. As detailed elsewhere in this volume, the technology, both simple and sophisticated, is available to remedy the problems of misidentification and contamination, given the will to apply it. Combined with proper records of the origin and history of the cell line, assays for authentication and contamination contribute to the provenance of the cell line. Detailed records should start from the initiation or receipt of the cell line, and should incorporate data on the donor as well as the tissue from which the cell line was derived, should continue with details of maintenance, and include any accidental as well as deliberate deviations from normal maintenance. Records should also contain details of authentication and regular checks for contamination. With this information, preferably stored in a database, and suitable backed up, the provenance of the cell line so created makes the cell line a much more valuable resource, fit for validation in industrial applications and more likely to provide reproducible experimental results when disseminated for research in other laboratories.
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