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Naming CHO cells for bio-manufacturing: Genome plasticity and variant phenotypes of cell populations in bioreactors question the relevance of old names.
  • Florian Wurm,
  • Maria Wurm
Florian Wurm
Swiss Federal Institute of Technology School of Life Sciences

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Maria Wurm
ExcellGene SA
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Chinese Hamster Ovary [CHO] cells are the workhorse for production of modern biopharmaceuticals, with total sales of CHO-produced proteins exceeding 100 Billion US Dollars/year today. CHO cells are however immortalised cells with a high propensity for genetic change. Judging from published culture records, CHO cell populations have undergone hundreds of population doublings since their origin in the late 1950s. Different cell populations were established and named during the first two decades after their generation, such as CHO-Pro-, CHO-K1, CHO-DG44, CHO-S, CHO-DUK, CHO-DXB-11, CHO-LA, etc. to indicate origin and certain phenotypic features. These names are commonly used in scientific publications still today. This article tries to raise questions about the relevance of such names. We argue that their use creates a false sense of identity. To substantiate this claim, we discuss the long (and poorly recorded) history of CHO cells as well as their highly complex genetics. Finally, we suggest an alternative naming system for CHO cells which provides more relevant information to the performance of these cells. Implementation of such a system should improve interpretation and comparability between laboratories. This, in turn will help scientific communities and industrial users to attain the full potential of CHO cells.