Advancements in Medical Research Due to Hela Cells Essay

1456 Words Nov 21st, 2012 6 Pages
Katrina Samborski
Honors English 1100
Dr. Nicole Caswell
November 10, 2012

Advancement of Medical Research from HeLa Cells HeLa simply stands for Henrietta Lacks, a young mother in the 1951 who went to the doctor complaining of vaginal bleeding and discovered she had cervical cancer. Henrietta’s cells were taken for a biopsy and were found to be like nothing ever seen before; her cells were immortal. Her cancer cells double every 20 to 24 hours and have lived on for the past 60 years. Since HeLa cells were created, our world of modern medicine has been completely changed. We now vaccines for once incurable diseases and have used the cells for cloning and other biomedical research. Although the cells have done a great deal of good,
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Although her cells are cancerous, HeLa cells share many traits with normal cells, making them useful in studying protein synthesis, the human genome and how viruses work. Dr. Gey sold the cells to researchers around the world, who used them to develop a variety of medicines. HeLa cells were the first to travel into space in an unmanned satellite to see if humans could survive zero gravity. “This cell line is used all around the world and revolutionized cell biology because they grew so well in culture, said William Earnshaw, principal research fellow at the University of Edinburgh's Centre for Cell Biology. “They yielded a huge amount of information,” Earnshaw said (Sharp).
In the early 1950s, the world experienced the biggest polio pandemic in history. Jonas Salk devised the world's first polio vaccine, but testing it would require huge supplies of live cells that, at the time, would have involved the sacrifice of thousands of monkeys. HeLa cells proved to be technically more suitable for testing, and much less expensive and messy, than using monkeys. Moreover, HeLa cells grew virtually anywhere and on any surface, including while floating on liquid. A HeLa mass production and distribution center was therefore established at the Tuskegee Institute, ironically at exactly the same time that the infamous Tuskegee syphilis study on black subjects was being carried out. Soon HeLa cells were to enable the first disaggregation of chromosomes, numerous discoveries from

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