U27111 at uicvm.uic.edu U27111 at uicvm.uic.edu
Wed Jan 3 02:49:38 EST 1996

Dear Dr. Gold,

bgold at itsa.ucsf.edu (Bert Gold) wrote on 2 Jan 1996 16:32:16 GMT:

>I have no personal investment in the American Type Culture
>Collection; however, you must recognize that that organization
>stocks in the tens of thousands of different viruses, fungi,
>bacterial cells, plasmids, phages and cell cultures.

Of course I do.  I believe they have *the* largest stock in the
world actually.

>They are reasonably responsive when a complaint is made about
>their shipping or viability AND they both employ many
>organizationally certified technicians and directors (ASM)

...now that I wasn't sure about - but am glad to hear that.

Thus, the question begs to be asked... if they use certified techs
to maintain such a stock - then why don't the PI's who utilizes it
for important biomedical experiments... why don't they also utilize
certified techs?


No doubt.

>and they have filed many important patents in the preservation and
>growth of bacterial and fungal strains.

As well as some cell lines.


>My daughter, after all, is only 5 months old, she can hardly fend
>for herself...

ATCC is a lot older than 5 months old.

But that really wasn't my point... my point was - they have become
just as political in dealing (or ignoring?) different problems as
the NIH/NCI etc.

For you just said it your self... "they have filed many important

And these patents have become more important then assuring clean
cell lines... (in some cases).

I think this is a valid criticism and not necessarily tossing the
bath water out with the baby.  For I think for good science to be
practiced... we need to recognize our weaknesses.

I know nothing can ever be 'perfect'.... but I think if you took a
really good look at what is going on in cell/tissue culture in
today's practices of Science in the 90's... it would scare the hell
out of you!  Because it sure does scare the hell out of me!

And to help fix this... it has to start at the top... at the ATCC -
to set some standards for the rest of field to follow.

>Kathy, I'm sorry that you had a bad experience with an ATCC line,
>but please try to see the glass half-full occasionally.

Well Dr. Gold... First, I'm sorry - but you obviously didn't read
my previous post that closely.

I wrote:

     A good example is the WISH cell line.  I've come across
     at least two people who had no idea this cell line is
     actually a HeLa-derivative cell line....

Thus, it wasn't *my* experience with ATCC... it was uninformed
others who came to me with problems/questions.

And I thought I pointed out how they didn't bother to do a medline
search and to actually read up on what they were working with in
the first place?

Second... and possibly a bit too harshly?  This "please try to see
the glass half-full" mentality doesn't wash with me... for it's
just not good enough.

We are looking at two decades now of slow (if not unproductive?)
cancer research... and once you had to hold someone you love in
your arms while they are going through much pain and suffering...
from cancer - so much pain and suffering in fact, that the *only*
relief comes with death - only then you can see that there is NO
JUSTIFICATION for the type of garbage which gets produced in our
field from the use of garbage cell lines!

Time has run out for many as time is running out for many more...
and I'm very sorry to say this Dr. Gold - but your defensive
argument of ATCC is BULL!

ATCC was not set up to process patents... it *was* suppose to be a
depository of high quality cell lines, viruses, etc. so that they
could be utilized by a pool of scientist to help make significant
discoveries towards progress in conquering such diseases.

Instead, they have succumbed to political pressures to make just
about anything available to just about anybody.... just to help
justify someone else's bad work.

And they don't bother to do species specificity testing either for
that matter... take a good look in the uncertified cell lines
section and you can see under Species Testing... Not Done!

What kind of precautions are done to assure *they* don't have cross
cell line contamination within their own facility... when they
don't do testing themselves?

There was a day once when they wouldn't even handel an uncertified
cell line... but that day is long gone.

I'm just saying that for others to take proper precautions in
handling such materials... ATCC had to set the standards!

I will admit it is indeed wonderful to have a catalogue available
with such a variety of cell lines to choose from... and to have
unlimited access of such materials... and to have it so efficiently
packaged and sent so quickly.

But what is the price we are paying for this if what you get
contaminates everything else in your lab or isn't even the cell
line the 'originator' claimed it was in the first place?

Lost of time, energy and monies.  All while more people continue to
suffer and die.

No... I don't see the 'little victories' which does occur
occasionally... I only see the look of death on my mother's face as
she laid dying.

And maybe if more PI's have seen such looks of death... they would
care more about what it is they are doing and whether it is even
valid or not in the first place!



More information about the Bioforum mailing list