The Importance Of The Hela Cells

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Henrietta Lacks was a poor black farmer from Virginia who led a life that would be described as typical at the time. She had children when she was young, raised them to the best of her ability while working to survive. But “typical” would not be the word to describe the impact Henrietta had on the scientific world. While admitted to a hospital, a sample of tissue unwillingly taken from her tumor gave rise to one of the most important cell lines in medical advancement and research. The cells that were “stolen” from her helped create vaccines, and aid in scientific discovery for years to come. However, not everyone benefited from the cells; Henrietta’s own family did not know of the existence of the cells for over 20 years after her death. Additionally, …show more content…
Scientists were halted in many parts of their research and trials due to the concerns raised by the usage of live test subjects, whether they were human or animal. With the introduction of the HeLa cell line, the research could get back on track. The HeLa cells were abundant, meaning that the scientists could experiment and run tests without worrying about test subject availability or consent. Also, the effect that an experiment would have on a live subject was the source of a moral debate. But the effect that any experiment could have on these cells could be observed for scientific results, furthering the knowledge of scientists. The HeLa cells were used to research innumerable things that could not be tested on humans. Scientists used these cells to test various toxins, and their effect on human cells. They infected the cells and observed the impact of radiation on the cells. The HeLa cells were also used to learn about the intricacies of malignant cells; observing the impact of HeLa cells on immune response, learning how these malignant cells grow and spread, and even researching drugs that would suppress the growth without impacting any of the healthy cells (Skloot, 57). All of this without worrying about the death of the cells; there would always be more cells that could be grown. The research enabled by these cells led to many medical advancements. The first of these was the ability to test vaccines on these cells. When it was discovered that the cells could be infected by various viruses, such as measles and polio, it paved the way for the research of various aspects of the virus. Scientists were now able to know how each one of these viruses entered cells and spread, giving them a greater understanding about prevention and treatment of the virus. Just as important, the scientists could also develop and test a vaccine

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