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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks: Chapter 20

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Rachel Lynch

on 7 October 2012

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Transcript of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks: Chapter 20

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Chapter 20: The Hela Bomb BY: Sima and Rachel Stanley Gartler *Geneticist *18 of the most commonly used cell cultures contained a rare genetic marker called gluocse-6-phosphate dehydrogenase-A *In Pennsylvania at the Second Decennial Review Conference on Cell Tissue and Organ Culture, Gartler announced that he had found a "technical problem" in cell culture. What is this "Technical Problem?" *G6PD-A was present exclusively in black Americans and even among them it was fairly rare They could travel from one culture to the next on unwashed hands or used pipettes HeLa HeLa cells could float through air on dust particals They could go from lab to lab on scientists coats and shoes or even through ventilation systems And.... they were POWERFUL! If just one Hela cell got in a cultured dish,it took over. Publicity *Ever since George Gey had grown HeLa, the number of published articles on cell cultured had increased each year. & Money * Scientists had spent millions of dollars researching the behavior of each tissue type. comparing one to another, and even testing responses of different cell types on specific drugs and chemicals. * If all those cells were HeLa millions of dollars would have been wasted. Robert Stevenson *President of the American Type Culture Collection And his take on Gartler's speech *Stevenson described Gartler by saying that he showed up at the meeting knowing nothing about cell culture and proceeded to drop a turd in the punch bowl. *Now Gartler was saying that all those years researchers thought that they were creating a library of human tissues, they were probably just growing and regrowing HeLa *Gartler also suggested that spontaneous transformation- one of the most celebrated prospects for finding cancer may not exist. Normal cells didn't randomly become cancerous, he said; they were taken over by HeLa Hsu *University of Texas geneticist *Made it possible to discover the correct number of human chromosomes *Agreed with Gartler Robert Chang and Leonard Hayflick Robert Chang: Chang liver cell line was listed as a HeLa cell contaminant on Gartler's chart. Chang had used those cells to discover enzymes and genes specific to liver cells. This means that if Gartler was right and the cells were actually from Henrietta's cervix , Chang's liver research would be worthless. Leonard Hayflick: Hayflick's cell line, WISH was also on the cell line contaminant. Hayflick had grown it using cells from the amniotic sac of his unborn daughter. He asked whether it was possible to find G6PD-A samples in white people and Gartler said it had not been reported. What did yo u learn? 1. Who is Stanley Gartler and what is the "technical problem" he talks about? 2. How does the "technical problem" effect science? 3. How are cells taken over by HeLa cells? 4. Who is Robert Stevenson and what does he think of Gartler? 5. What does Hsu think of Gartler?
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