It doesn’t matter if you have heard about the HeLa Cells until now. These cells have been like a revolution in the field of treatment and medicines since 1951. Unfortunately, the primary source for the cells was unidentified for a long time.
The 50 year time period (approx) near to mid 19th century was quite a struggle period for the whole world. Humanity witnessed the intensity of World War during this period.
In the later part of the mid nineteenth century, America was dealing with the problem of racism. On the other hand, medical science was on the verge to get one of the best medical answers.
Origin & Significance of HeLa cells:
Hela cells are the most widely cells used in cell biology. It is the oldest and most commonly used human cell line. These cells were taken from an African lady Henrietta Lacks in 1951, who was living in Baltimore. She was an economically weak lady and a mother of 5. She met an unfortunate death at a young age of 30 in 1951 due to cervical cancer.
Prior to her death, she approached a free medical help proving center after encountering a type of lump in the cervix. As well as, she reported the doctors with the problem of bleeding in the section. The doctors diagnosed her with a quickly growing & multiplying cancer.
During the treatment phase, her doctor took medical samples of cancerous cells from her body. They were handed to Dr. George Otto Gey who was the senior of the tissue research department. He kept them safely in the Lab where the tests were done. Further on, her uterus or the womb was removed by operation.
HeLa in the lab of Dr. George Gey:
Dr. George was trying to conserve and cultivate human cancer cells as well other tissues since long time in past. However, he wasn’t successful in his mission since the tissues live for a day or two, developed and multiplied, unluckily later on died each time.
Now let’s return back to the story of Henrietta Lacks, the woman who unintentionally contributed to this important discovery. She wasn’t informed of her operation in advance. The lump of cancerous tissues was taken out from her body and was sent for research without taking her consent.
Of course, the hospital formalities as well as the management weren’t of optimum quality at that time. She wasn’t told as if informing the patient about matters like these weren’t considered important at that time.
Lacks died in the same year but her lab contained tissues survived and kept multiplying into millions. These cells were called HeLa Cells, named after Henrietta Lacks.
HeLa traveled the whole world:
During subsequent years, the HeLa cells got distributed to several colleges and laboratories all over the world for the purpose of research and learning. As estimation, the developed cells across the world may possibly weigh many times heavier in comparison to her small weak body.
There is always an exceptional case and perhaps it’s the only case of human cells surviving outside the body for an indefinite period.
It’s like a challenge to the very foundations of science and to the theory as of which normal human cells subjected to a cell culture can multiple for approx 40-60 times. Further than that, the cell division stops.
Obviously, you may well correlate the cell line with aging. This mechanism may possibly be answerable for prevention of genomic unsteadiness and growth of cancer.
Fight against world’s deadliest diseases:
The cells have helped scientists discover the nature of a variety of diseases. As well it has helped in finding out vaccines and medicines for polio, cancer, fertility and many more. Apparently the cells became an advantage for great developments in medical sciences.
HeLa cells have worked fine in the fight against the Polio virus and eventually led to the discovery and improvement of the Polio vaccine. This vaccine on the other hand has helped millions around the globe against Polio virus. It has saved numerous of people from getting handicapped.
Then again, the cell line is helping biological scientists in the research of cancerous tissues, as if what are the causes or internal chemical reactions behind the deadly problem like Cancer.
Medical science has developed a number of medicines which are greatly effective against the Cancer problem. These cells are working fine in the development related medicines.
HeLa cell line, a gold mine for hospitals & doctors:
In this campaign, cultivating the HeLa cell line and delivering it to some other laboratory is a business of millions of dollars. Poor African-American Henrietta Lacks has indirectly helped the world fight against a lot of deadly diseases. Conversely, her family is still living a life of misery and poverty. They are even deprived of the basic medical facilities.
Medical science has recorded many achievements in the last 60+ years. Where, doctors and hospitals all over the world have earned millions in currency. Though, the descendants of Henrietta Lacks were unaware of the fact for approx 40 years of her death. The family remained poor even though the truth that they were indirectly helpful for a lot of medical innovations.
Story of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot:
Their story is published by Rebecca Skloot, who is a science writer. She devoted her life’s 10 years in finding the family and presenting them before the world. She has written a book named “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks”.
Scientists all over the world are working day and night on the cells as to identify the basis of its immortality. It is still a secret and if someday scientists could reveal it, they could make human race into ever young beings.