OCT 30, 2016 1:44 PM PDT

Henrietta Lacks, HeLa Cells & Their Contribution to Research

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

Henrietta Lacks went to Johns Hopkins Hospital to receive treatment for a health problem, and discovered that she had cervical cancer. A biopsy of her cells that was taken during her clinical consultations was later used, without her knowledge, by researchers.

The scientists set of a revolution in biomedical research with Lacks' cells, which took their name, HeLa, from hers. Those unique and important cells were the first to be cultured and reproduced in a laboratory. The cells were disseminated and they went on to be critical in a wide variety and huge amount of biomedical breakthroughs. They were pivotal for example, in the creation of the polio vaccine and later, into AIDS and cancer research.

The cells, and the way in which they were obtained and surreptitiously used have raised numerous ethical questions, and created a lot of problems for the family - whose medical records were published without consent. A portion of the HeLa genome has also been published without familial consent. The National Institutes of Health has since worked with the family to give them more control over the use of the cells and acknowledgement in papers.
About the Author
  • Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on 28 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 60 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
You May Also Like
MAR 25, 2020
Cardiology
MAR 25, 2020
Staying Fit While Avoiding COVID-19
For those used to working out at a gym, the current circumstances requiring us all to remain isolated as much as possibl ...
MAR 29, 2020
Space & Astronomy
MAR 29, 2020
NASA is Sending This Golden Box to Mars to Make Oxygen
NASA’s Perseverance rover, formerly known as just the Mars 2020 rover, will do quite a bit more than merely drive ...
APR 20, 2020
Plants & Animals
APR 20, 2020
How Sand Cats Survive in the Harsh Desert Environment
The sand cat is a type of feline that spends nearly all its life in the desert. While they may not look that much differ ...
APR 27, 2020
Plants & Animals
APR 27, 2020
Minor Dental Work Helps This Turtle Eat Again
It seems like turtles are always hungry. Just the mere mention of food gets their heads bobbing, and don’t even ge ...
APR 28, 2020
Space & Astronomy
APR 28, 2020
NASA's Swift Telescope Measured the Water Loss of This Interstellar Comet
When the interstellar comet 2l/Borisov made its first appearance in our solar system, astronomers were quick to turn the ...
MAY 03, 2020
Plants & Animals
MAY 03, 2020
Some Snakes Only Use Venomous Bites as a Last Resort
Snakes have a bad rap with people because so many species are known to bite when disturbed. An even smaller subset of sn ...
Loading Comments...