Henrietta Lacks and HeLa Cells

In 1951, Henriatta Lacks went to close-by Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. After giving birth to her baby, she started to suffering from genitourinary bleeding. The doctor discovered found the explanation behind abnormal bleeding, an extraordinary cervical mass.   The doctor suspected in cancer, after a surgery a piece of specimen from possible cervical tumor was sent to a researchers in a laboratory. The researchers revealed that the tumor was a malign cervix cancer.

Henriatta Lacks, 1950

Another specimen was sent to a research group working on a solution to sure cancer. To do so, George and Margaret Gey had been trying for two decades on human cells to keep them alive outside the human body. The researchers discovered that in laboratory conditions, Lacks cervical cancer cells grew very fast than any cell line they had observed so far.  Sadly, in couple months Lacks health condition was getting worse, cancer cells vigorously spread all over her body in short time and she passed away unfortunately.

George Otto Gey

At the same time researcher Gey showed up on a TV program and announced a new achievement, HeLa cells (HEnriatta LAcks). They believe that, with the help of this new tumor cell line, they will find a way to treat cancer patients.

HeLa cells became an essential instrument for biology research, due to its powerful capacity to reproduce. In a laboratory research, HeLa cells could be used for virus studies to develop various vaccines against most dangerous diseases. And, the cell line still have been used for fundamental studies for decades. In spite of fact that Henriatta Lack never been outside of her state Maryland, but her cervix cells have travelled around the world. After she passed away, a huge number of articles have been published using data from HeLa cells. If researchers haven’t cautious enough, easily can contaminate other cell cultures in laboratory. They have been using HeLa cell culture since her demise in 1951.

Cell cycle and cell division are vital steps to understand all kind of malignancies. But not for cancer also critical for development and reproduction of all kind of living beings.


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