Studying biological phenomena in a physiologically relevant environment is one of the biggest challenges for life scientists. Using primary cells directly from an animal is one way to lend credibility to observations, but these cells have a limited life span in culture, are not always readily available, and can be difficult to propagate. To study long-term gene expression, many resort to using transformed cell lines, which will grow indefinitely in culture. Artifacts specific to the transformed phenotype are a serious drawback to this approach. Transformed cells often continue to accumulate changes over repeated passages, further removing studies from native conditions.

Clontech recently developed the Infinity series of telomerase-immortalized cell lines as an alternative to transformed cell lines for mammalian gene expression studies. The first Infinity cell line, released last summer, is made from human retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells that stably express human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) and is known...

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