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Authenticate new xenograft models

Nature volume 532, page 313 (21 April 2016) | Download Citation

As the US National Cancer Institute (NCI) switches to using patient-derived tumour xenografts in mice for drug screening (see Nature 530, 391; 2016), we warn researchers on behalf of the International Cell Line Authentication Committee ( that xenografts potentially have the same cross-contamination and misidentification problems as cultured cell lines.

For example, at least 4 of the 60 human-cancer cell lines on NCI's panel are affected, as are several NCI-derived lines that were established before contamination testing became widely available (see

Lack of testing or bad practice can undermine the reliability of patient-derived xenografts. Cell cultures from these call for extra quality-control measures, such as screening for cross-species DNA contamination (J. Camps et al. Leuk. Res. 30, 923–934; 2006).

The US National Institutes of Health now requires the authentication of key biological resources, but guidelines and defined protocols are still needed for rigorous characterization of patient-derived xenografts. It will be essential to deposit reference information for cell-based models in public databases, including details of donor DNA profile, host species and strain, testing outcome for host DNA, and methodologies.

Author information


  1. Silver Spring, Maryland, USA.

    • Roland M. Nardone
  2. Leibniz Institute DSMZ, Germany.

    • Roderick A. F. MacLeod
  3. Children's Medical Research Institute, New South Wales, Australia.

    • Amanda Capes-Davis


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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Amanda Capes-Davis.

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