Mycoplasma Contamination: An Expensive Oversight

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In this day and age, mycoplasma contamination in cell culture laboratories is still a significant issue. We have dedicated a couple of blog entries to the issue of mycoplasma detection, yet important studies pointing to the severity of the situation are continuing to appear.

Recent statistical data points to contamination by Mycoplasmas as being an issue of realistic concern:  A recent study by John Hogenesch’ lab at University of Pennsylvania Medical School analyzed 9395 rodent and primate samples from 884 projects in the NCBI Sequence Read Archive and found that 11% were contaminated by Mycoplasma. The authors further pointed out the fact that because these studies collectively totalled $3bn, it is likely that hundreds of millions of dollars in research funding are potentially affected, and likely negatively compromised.

This is a real concern. Elsewhere, BioData Mining published another study, wherein database corruption was investigated by analyzing sequences published in the 1000 Genome Project. The author, William Langdon at University College London, found that, when using Bowtie to map sequences, at least 7% were contaminated, in that they matched Mycoplasma but no human sequences.

Studies such as these highlight the real cost of Mycoplasma contamination when not taken into account.

Detecting contaminants such as Mycoplasma may not be easy. Low levels of contaminants may be hard to detect during initial screening, but later become visible during the bioproduction process, when it may be too late or when significant investment has already been made.

In our previous entires, we highlighted the use of new approaches for Mycoplasma detection based on Real-Time PCR as being more sensitive, rapid and efficient at detecting low level contaminants than the methods traditionally used.

These methods should become routine in lab use so that further development efforts are not met with products that have not been accounted for as being contaminated.

Akron Biotech is at the forefront of such efforts, and our Real-Time PCR Mycoplasma Detection Kit, Mycosolutions RT-PCR, has just launched as is now available for order.

Contact us for more information.

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