We all know that choosing the right controls for your experiments is critical to the interpretation of results. With 32,755 articles, stretching back more than 50 years ,  containing references to cell lines that have been contaminated or mis-identified (Horbach and Halffman, 2017), the importance of credible control cell lines has never been clearer. How you choose and source your control cell lines is therefore crucial.

Choosing your cell lines – A stab in the dark?

The choice of cell line often involves striking a balance between the most biologically appropriate cell line and one that is easy to use.  Factors to consider include*:

  • Usability – what culture conditions does it need? How quickly does it grow? How easy is it to contaminate? How easy is it to clone?
  • Morphology - What is the cell’s structure like? Is it from the same species as your experimental cell lines? Is it a normal or a transformed cell line?
  • Accessibility – How easy is it to access these cell lines? Is the cell line well-characterised? Does it need validation? Is it a finite or a continuous cell line?
  • Relevance - What similarities/ differences exist between the cell line and your experimental cell lines? Will any of these similarities or differences have an impact on your experiment? What’s the purpose of your experiments? Is this cell line relevant to that research area?

(*Reference: Thermofisher)


Once you have chosen your perfect control cell line, sourcing it can be tricky – How do you choose the right supplier from the array of global suppliers? How do you find your cell line from the vast range on offer? In addition, how can you ensure the authenticity and quality of the cell lines you receive? Finding your chosen cell lines for the right price can be time-consuming and arduous and even then, peace of mind can be elusive.

However, it doesn’t have to be that way. Ximbio has technology transfer agreements with over 80 academic institutes, giving us unrivalled access to the unique reagents developed by thousands of researchers. This means that our portfolio contains many cell lines that can only be sourced from Ximbio and our partners. To help guarantee the quality and authenticity of our cell lines, many are available through our partnership with ECACC whose rigour in ensuring the correct identification and purity of cell lines helps to ensure that the credibility of our cell lines and your research results, are maintained.


Control cell lines – Sharing their stories

Many of our cell lines already have published examples of their use as controls. Here are a few examples:

Identifying molecular changes characteristic of early oral cancer progression [FNB6 hTERT cell line]

In a 2002 research paper, this cell line was used to identify molecular changes characteristic of early oral cancer progression (McGregor et al, 2002). In particular, using this cell line as a control for the development of invasive characteristics, expression of EGFR, PLK1, cyclin D1 and p53 and expression of RAR-β mRNA, the cell cycle inhibitors p16, p21, and p27, and in the quantitation of hTERT activity.

You can also benefit as the mucosal equivalents based on immortalized FNB6 cells are accessible, reproducible and will provide an alternative animal experimental system for studying mucosal drug delivery systems, host-pathogen interactions, and drug-induced toxicity.

View the FNB6 hTERT cell line on our portfolio to find out more about this product:

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Studying and comparing disrupted interferon signalling throughout the IFN pathway [2fTGH- U4C/U2A/U3A/U6A/U5A]

These cell lines are part of the panel of IFNy pathway mutant fibrosarcoma cell lines and have been used in multiple different research experiments. They are ideal for use in cell signalling, signal transduction and immunology. Each of the cell lines referenced above contains a different mutation within the IFN signalling pathway. The wild type of the 2FTGH human fibrosarcoma can be used as a positive control along with the U5A and U3A IFNB resistant cell lines. These cell lines benefit you by supporting your in vitro study and allowing the comparison of disrupted interferon signalling at multiple points across the IFN pathway.

Discover more about these cell lines on our portfolio

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Disrupting cancer therapy and predicting tumour susceptibility [Mouse fibrosarcoma VEGFWT (Control) Cell Line]

This mouse embryo cell line, was used as a control cell line in this research from 2008, focused on evaluating the consequences of modifying tumour vascular morphology and function on vascular and therapeutic response to combretastatin-A4 3-O-phosphate (CA-4-P). The research paper on this experiment, (Tozer et al, 2008), implied that there are differences in the signalling pathways between VEGF isoforms and suggested that VEGF isoforms might be useful in vascular disrupting cancer therapy to predict tumour susceptibility to VDAs.

Using this cell line is particularly beneficial for commercial or pharmaceutical use. It allows you to investigate the effect of potential therapeutic agents in modifying tumour vascular morphology or function and studying the therapeutic response.

For more information on this cell line, visit our portfolio

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Over 300 cell lines at your fingertips

The control cell lines included in our portfolio include mutant, primary, cancer, tumour, knock-out, immortalised, transgenic and extended lifespan cell lines.

Discover your perfect control cell line: