Hela Cells History Essay

892 WordsDec 1, 20134 Pages
HeLa Cells: Science Phenomena Yet No Recognition Her name was Henrietta Lacks and she was a woman who died nearly 60 years ago and lies in an unmarked grave in a cemetery in Virginia. Henrietta Lacks was a poor African American tobacco farmer who died at the age of 31 due to cervical cancer. She became one of the most important unknown figures in medicine without even knowing it. Before her death, she was being treated at Johns Hopkins Hospital for her cancer and without her knowing, doctors took some of her cells for research. She went in during a time where scientists were trying to grow human cells and culture; thus they were taking cells from anybody they could. Scientists had been trying for years to keep human cells alive in the lab but none of them lasted very long until Henrietta Lacks' cells were taken at the hospital. While she was under anesthesia, they took a small sample of her tumor and sent it down the hall to George Guy, the head of tissue culture research. He had been trying to grow human cells for decades and it hadn't worked until he got Henrietta Lacks' and hers just took off. For the first time in history, human cells could be grown and infinitely replicated outside of the body. HeLa cells were named after her by combining the first two letter of her first and last name. These cells are a corner stone of modern medicine. There are hundreds of thousands of ways the HeLa cells have been used. They have been used to help test the polio vaccine so that it could be approved for use in people. They also went into space to test how human cells would react in zero gravity. HeLa cells were the first cells ever cloned and the first genes ever mapped. They've been used to create drugs for basic cancers. There have been so many uses that it's hard to imagine science without HeLa cells. With all of this success, there was one

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