Rockland Introduces Melanoma Cell Lines


Rockland Immunochemical has partnered with the Wistar Research Institute to produce, validate, and distribute a diverse panel of patient-derived melanoma cell lines. More than 100 patient-derived melanoma cell lines are grouped for BRAF, N-RAS, C-KIT, PTEN, and CDK4 mutations.

Meenhard Herly, D.V.M., D.Sc.: These cell lines are the main stake. We cannot do anything without these cell lines. And our battery of cell lines increases because melanoma is not one disease but many diseases. And each cell line represents a patient. So when I was doing it in my early years by myself, I could recognize the cells and I knew this was this cell and not from any other individual. So the cells, if you know them, they have their own character. They maintain that it's quite remarkable. So today, as an experimental scientist, and that's all over the world, we need models because we cannot do everything in patients.

We need to make sure that our models reflect what's going on in patients. That's why we have the cell lines. They're our workhorses. And without that, we could not do what we do. We are creating today three-dimensional structures. And starting with normal human skin, we can take a little snippet of your skin and then recreate individual cells and different dishes, pull them together again, and make an artificial skin.

The problem with melanoma is that the genome is very, let me use the jargon, messed up. There are many, many mutations. So human cells that we grow in the laboratory much more reflect what we see in patients than mouse cells. One in four cell lines is not what it's supposed to be in trouble because you spend 25% of all your efforts on something where you make a wrong conclusion, where all your interpretation is off. And that's why a rigorous quality control has very early been a key in the success of establishing these cell lines and maintaining them over the years.

Dr. Carl Ascoli: Rockland moved to our new 60,000-square-foot facility in Limerick, Pennsylvania, in 2014. In that facility, we built two new ISO 8000 clean rooms with multiple rooms in each that are exquisitely well designed to produce a variety of cell lines, including the patient-derived melanoma cell lines that we're discussing today.

Rockland has very highly qualified and talented cell culture technicians that are well-suited to develop the media, grow the cell lines, and do all the validation of the cell lines, which is very important, including their genetic analysis, to confirm that there's no mycoplasma contamination and in fact, that the lines are sterile. These tumor cell lines are excellent models because of how well-characterized their genetic background is.

The fact that most of the tumor models were isolated from metastatic tumors and the fact that they've been exposed to a very limited number of cell passages, which makes them very good models for the tumor microenvironment. As such, they can be used very effectively with a variety of monoclonal antibodies that Rockland has developed against key cancer biomarkers.

Meenhard Herly, D.V.M., D.Sc.: And they also come with all the information needed on the patient's tumor's genetic background. They come with all the information, what proteins are abnormal. We know also that most of these lines do the same thing as they do in patients, meaning if they came from a metastasis, they will also metastasize in the experimental animal models. Don't go to your friend and get some cell lines. Get them from a renowned source that has done good quality control and then adapt their culture conditions. Then don't think you want to reinvent the wheel. Just follow their protocols.