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Thousands of cell lines have been artificially developed and used for different applications. Information about cell lines is typically stored in public repositories and indexed catalogues. Most cell lines are commercially available. Some cell lines are only transferred between academic laboratories. Information about cell lines has not been well standardized and machine-readable to date. Integration of data from multiple sources is a challenge, confounded by lack of consistent naming conventions, contamination of cell lines, and provision of the same cell lines by multiple commercial sources but with different biological attributes.

The Cell Line Ontology (CLO) is a community-based effort to represent all cell lines in a starndard ontology approach.