Question: if cell line contamination is such a big issue, why use cell lines? Answer: cell lines can be wonderfully reliable models if used correctly, responsible for many advances in medicine and science. The link in the title above is to one example: a new cell line with great potential in the fight against foot-and-mouth disease (FMD).
A serious illness that can affect cloven-hooved animals - including cattle, pigs, sheep and goats - FMD is highly contagious and requires careful quarantine to stop outbreaks from spreading. The virus responsible (FMDV) can be highly variable; there are currently seven serotypes of FMDV, with more than 60 different strains. This can make FMDV difficult to detect.
Detection of FMDV usually involves growing the virus in cell culture. Previously, cell lines were not terribly sensitive to the virus, meaning that laboratories testing for FMDV needed to use primary cultures. Primary cultures are short-term cultures that can be expensive and difficult to handle.
To improve detection of FMDV, scientists from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) have generated a new cell line that is susceptible to all seven serotypes. Derived from the cell line LFBK, the new cell line is easy to grow and carries a bovine receptor for FMDV that increases its susceptibility.
It may not seem much to those of us outside the field. But rapid, reliable detection of FMD is a crucial aspect of stopping its spread. And that may well have global implications.
For more information on FMD, see:
For the abstract of the original article, see:
Via Amanda Capes-Davis