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HeLa, the oldest and most commonly used human cell line (wikipedia.org)
54 points by GuiA on Oct 30, 2015 | hide | past | favorite | 12 comments

The HeLa line was actually the subject of some debate two years ago. In essence, her family only found out in march 2013 that their ancestor's cells (which had been taken without consent) were widely used for research. The family complained, and a settlement was reached with the NIH, allowing the family some measure of control over where the cells are used, crediting the origins of the cells in publications, and removing the genome from public-access databases. Some hail this as a victory for research ethics, while some feel that it confuses the issue of who has control over donor tissue and genetic data.


According to the Smithsonian, Lacks' family found out about the HeLa cell line in the 1970s.


I'm pretty sure that they found out a few years earlier about what had happened and the lawsuit only happened it 2013, but I could be mistaken. If I recall correctly, in the book (The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks) the author told Henrietta's daughter about it around 2005(?)

Indeed. I had to keep reminding myself that the book was nonfiction. Some of the things were exactly the kind of symbolism and setting details I'd expect a good fiction author to weave into a tale, but they really happened.

RadioLab had a great episode about HeLa:


Also, Adam Curtis's documentary: The Way of All Flesh https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C0lMrp_ySg8

I love the increase in bio topics making it onto the front page. The subject matter is basic but the quality of the comments is always getting better. Go bio!

It makes it particularly interesting when the titles contain words that are homonymous with the usual computers/tech subjects; at first I glossed over the word "human" and thought this would be about mobile phones.

NK92 is another cell line that is similar to HeLa but fights cancer.


There is a fascinating book about Mrs. Henrietta Lacks [1]. Highly recommended.

[1] http://www.amazon.com/Immortal-Life-Henrietta-Lacks-ebook/dp...

I'm surprised that HeLa has a binomial name: Helacyton gartleri.

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