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Henrietta Lacks - HeLa Cells

Henrietta Lacks's cells have revolutionized modern medicine and people's lives by helping to develop the polio vaccine and other medicines for treating dibilitating diseases.

Annie Norris

on 31 January 2013

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Transcript of Henrietta Lacks - HeLa Cells

By Annie Norris Henrietta Lacks and
Her Immortal Cells Henrietta Lacks Almost every single person has benefited from a woman that lived 60 years ago, and her legacy and her cells will live on forever. Henrietta Why is Henrietta so Important? How Have HeLa Cells Helped Medicine and Scientific Research? Companies have made millions of dollars off of Henrietta's stolen cancer cells, and while her cells have been helping people all around the world...

nobody in her family ever knew about it until 20 years after her death. 60 Year Old Cells Still Living Today Henrietta Lacks's cells have revolutionized modern medicine and people's lives by helping to develop the polio vacccine and other medicines for treating dibilitating diseases. Henrietta was born on August 1, 1920 in Roanoke, Virginia.

She lived there until her mother died from giving birth, and went to Clover where the family's tobacco farm was.

At the age of 21, Henrietta married her cousin Day, and later moved away from her family's tobacco farm to live in Baltimore. Henrietta Lacks has always been known as a "...poor, African American tobacco farmer" ("The Gift of Immortal Cells"), but what many people don't know is how much she has contributed to science. On this day (Jan. 29), 52 years ago, David(Day) Lacks waited, "...outside Johns Hopkins Hospital with three of his children...waiting for their mother, Henrietta" ("The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" 13). Henrietta complained she felt a knot around her stomach area and later found out she had cervical cancer. While looking at the tumor, the physician cut a section of it and sent it off to a lab to scientist, George Gey, for testing. At that time, many scientists had been trying to grow human cells out of the body. Scientists would literally take any cells, from anyone, to test on them, but they wouldn't tell their patients. Back then, nobody really had any consideration of how taking someone's cells or tissues would effect that person or their family. George Gey had been trying to grow cells in culture for decades, but all the cells he had tested on would die - not Henrietta's. Henrietta's cells kept multiplying and stayed alive longer than any other cells Gey's team had ever seen. "But Henrietta's tumor cells took over her body as quickly as they'd taken over test tubes. Within months, tumors appeared on almost every organ..." ("Henrietta's Dance" n. pag.) and she ended up dying on October 4, 1951. The way they named her cells was by taking the first 2 letters of her first name, and the first 2 of her last name, creating the name
HeLa. HeLa cells are the most widely used cells in the world. "...if you could pile all HeLa cells ever grown onto a scale, they'd weigh more than 50 million metric tons" ("The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" 2)... ... and if all the cells were laid out end-to-end, they would probably rap around the Earth AT LEAST 3 times, spanning more than 350 million feet. HeLa 50,000,000
metric tons In 1952, the U.S. had one of it's worst years of the polio epidemic (57,628 cases were reported nationally). So once Dr. Jonas Salk came out with a vaccine it saved millions, "...reducing the incidence of polio by almost 90 percent within two years" ("The Polio Epidemic" n. pag.), but he wouldn't have been able to do it if it weren't for HeLa cells. Labs had to make their own culture medium (food for the cells). The man is stirring broth while the woman filter it. The enzyme keeps rebuilding the end of their chromosomes so the cells never get old. Henrietta's family hasn't gotten ANY of the money.
And some of her family can't even afford health insurance. A scientist accidentally poured a chemical on a HeLa cell, "...that spread out its tangled chromosomes. Later on, scientists used this technique to determine that humans have 46 chromosomes—23 pairs—not 48, which provided the basis for making several types of genetic diagnoses" ("Five Reasons Henrietta Lacks is the Most Important Woman in Medical History" n. pag.). HeLa Splitting "Before HeLa cells, scientists spent more time trying to keep cells alive than performing actual research on the cells. An endless supply of HeLa cells freed up time for discovery" ("Five Reasons Henrietta Lacks is the Most Important Woman in Medical History" n. pag.). Dolly A HeLa Timeline for the Last Half-Century
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