Nucleic acid amplification technique (NAT)-based assays (referred to here as NAT assays) are increasingly used as an alternative to culture-based approaches for the detection of mycoplasma contamination of cell cultures. Assay features, like the limit of detection or quantification, vary widely between different mycoplasma NAT assays. Biological reference materials may be useful for harmonization of mycoplasma NAT assays. An international feasibility study included lyophilized preparations of four distantly related mycoplasma species (Acholeplasma laidlawii, Mycoplasma fermentans, M. orale, M. pneumoniae) at different concentrations which were analyzed by 21 laboratories using 26 NAT assays with a qualitative, semiquantitative, or quantitative design. An M. fermentans preparation was shown to decrease the interassay variation when used as a common reference material. The preparation was remanufactured and characterized in a comparability study, and its potency (in NAT-detectable units) across different NATs was determined. The World Health Organization (WHO) Expert Committee on Biological Standardization (ECBS) established this preparation to be the "1st World Health Organization international standard for mycoplasma DNA for nucleic acid amplification technique-based assays designed for generic mycoplasma detection" (WHO Tech Rep Ser 987:42, 2014) with a potency of 200,000 IU/ml. ThisWHOinternational standard is now available as a reference preparation for characterization of NAT assays, e.g., for determination of analytic sensitivity, for calibration of quantitative assays in a common unitage, and for defining regulatory requirements in the field of mycoplasma testing.
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© 2015, American Society for Microbiology.