Getting human tissue cells to grow in a Petri dish was a long-sought goal of researchers in the early half of the last century. Until Henrietta Lacks, a poor cervical cancer patient, showed up at Johns Hopkins in 1951, it was nearly impossible to study human cell processes in a laboratory environment. The incredible thing about Henrietta Lacks was that cells harvested from her cervical tumor grew and multiplied outside the body with absolute ease. For sixty years now the so-called HeLa cells have been used across the world to study cellular physiology and pathology, to develop and test vaccines and drugs, to learn about radiation risks, and much more.
National Public Radio yesterday aired an interview with Rebecca Skloot, author of a new book about the “immortal” Henrietta Lacks, and discussed HeLa cells’ impact on her family, science, and the evolution of medical ethics.
Rebecca Skloot’s essay about Henrietta Lacks from 2000: Henrietta’s Dance
Link: A STATEMENT FROM JOHNS HOPKINS MEDICINE ABOUT HELA CELLS AND THEIR USE…
Image: HeLa cells stained with Hoechst 33258 stain. Wikimedia Commons.