Some 11 percent of the cell culture-based projects housed in the NCBI Sequence Read Archive appear to be contaminated with mycoplasma, Anthony Olarerin-George and John Hogenesch from the University of Pennsylvania report.

Mycoplasma is often introduced accidentally into cell cultures by lab workers, and it cannot be killed by the antibiotics typically used to treat such cultures.

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In a commentary at eLife, Brandeis University's Eve Marder calls on researchers to value and pursue truth.

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