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Research: He La Cells Essay

954 words - 4 pages

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HeLa Cells in Medical Research and Bioethics

Used in scientific research, the HeLa cells are known to be a type of immortal, tissue cultured cell line. A cell line is a group of cells taken from a person and used for scientific research (science.howstuffworks.com). When a cell type is known to be immortal, it refers to the cells being able to divide an indefinite amount of times, when cell survival conditions are met in a laboratory. The first human cell line to survive in a test tube, or in vitro, was the HeLa cells (science.howstuffworks.com). These cells were taken from a tissue of a tumor of a woman with ...view middle of the document...

The physician noticed that her cells were different from normal cells and those cells helped with the vaccination of many diseases, one such disease being polio.

The cells had been received by Dr. George Otto Gey, who had been attempting to cultivate human cells, for decades, in a laboratory. Any attempt before this time had failed, as the cells died within a few days of being placed in a dish. But Henrietta’s cells were different and unique in that when Dr. Gey put them in a dish to grow, they divided, and never stopped. The line, HeLa, was the name the doctor had given it.

HeLa cells have proven to be very helpful in the process of vaccinations and the study of diseases. In the 1950s, Jonas Salk used the HeLa cells to test the first vaccine for polio. Because it had been observed that the cells were easily infected by poliomyelitis, and causing infected cells to die and because results were easily obtainable, HeLa cells became highly wanted for testing polio vaccines. To be able to test Salk’s polio vaccine, there needed to be a large amount of HeLa cells. This prompted the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis (NFIP) to find a
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suitable facility that would have the capability of mass-producing HeLa cells. The Tuskegee University became the place for a cell factory in the spring of 1953 to supply Salk and other laboratories with HeLa cells, just two years after Lack’s death. (en.wikipedia.org)

Testing polio vaccinations was not the only thing HeLa cells were used for. In Denver, the University of Colorado, the first human cells to be successfully cloned were HeLa cells. Many scientific pursuits, such as the effects of radiation and toxic substances, research into cancer, gene mapping, and AIDS have been studied with the use of HeLa cells. In testing how the parvo virus infects dogs, HeLa,...

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