Cancer cell lines are used in many biomedical research laboratories. Why, then, are they often described as unrepresentative of the cells from which they were derived? Here, I argue that they have been unjustly accused. Under the right conditions, and with appropriate controls, properly authenticated cancer cell lines retain the properties of the cancers of origin.
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I thank Alan Entwistle, Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, University College London for help preparing the time-lapse movies and Jim Thomson, Laboratory of the Government Chemist, London, UK for providing images for Figure 1.
Video time lapse of five frequently used human cancer cell lines, collected at 15 frames per hour with a x20 objective. The frame represents an area of 627 micrometres by 470 micrometres. Features to notice include the ruffled membranes at the leading edge of the cells and dividing cells. There is relatively little cell movement. The cell lines are:
HeLa (cervix) (MPG 1169 kb)
Images collected by Alan Entwistle (Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, Royal Free and UCL Branch) and John Masters.
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