HeLa cells

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An established cell line (q.v.) consisting of an aneuploid strain of human epithelial-like cells, maintained in tissue culture since 1951; originating from a specimen of tissue from a carcinoma of the cervix in a patient named Henrietta Lacks. H. Lacks eventually died from her cancer. However, her cancer cells are subcultured in laboratories all over the world. It is estimated that the combined weight of these cells is now 400 times Henrietta's adult body weight. HeLa cells have been used to investigate the cell cycle (q.v.), to develop the polio vaccine, and to study the behavior of human cells in the environment of outer space. Because of sloppy subculturing, HeLa cells contaminate other cell lines in many laboratories throughout the world. See Chronology, 1951, Gey; 1968, Gartler; 1995, Feng et al.

Subjects: Genetics and Genomics.

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