Sunday, May 11, 2014

HeLa Cells Now Used in 3D Bioprinting: the continuing story of Henrietta Lacks

For people who don't know what HeLa is, HeLa stands for Henrietta Lacks, who donated cells from her cancerous cervix in the the early 1950s.  These cells were one of the first surviving cell cultures, and became integral to discovering many things about cells, cancer, and human bodies. The HeLa cells were the most common cells for experiments using human cells for many years. They are somewhat controversial because she was not aware of her donation (no informed consent) and her family didn't make any money from the sale of cells.

American and Chinese researchers used her cells to create a three dimensional model of a tumor, used to test new drugs in a more realistic way than the traditional single-layer models. the researcher found that around 90% of the cells remained viable after being printed, and that the 3D model was more realistic than the single layer one.

Here is an article with more information on this story and here is an earlier blog post about bioprinting.  Or, click the image above to read a February 2002 NPR article about the book.

- By Jane (7th grade)

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