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HeLa Cells and their Scientific and Medical Breakthroughs

  • Henrietta is diagnosed with terminal cervical cancer

    Henrietta is diagnosed with terminal cervical cancer
    Henrietta is diagnosed while unconscious and some doctors decide to sample some of her tissue. She ends up dying but her cancerous cells live on and continue to multiply. They are quickly shipped to other doctor's offices and experimented on. They are named HeLa cells.
  • HeLa allows for rapid production of Poliovirus

    HeLa allows for rapid production of Poliovirus
    Scientists discover that poliovirus is able to grow and multiply three times as fast on HeLa cells. This means that HeLa cells can cause polio and scientists can now develop a vaccine for polio because HeLa cells allow testing.
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    Chester Southam injects people with HeLa cells

    Southam injects HeLa cells into patients without their knwoledge. He does this to see if people's immune systems reject the cells, or if they begin to grow.
  • HeLa cells used for x-rays

    HeLa cells used for x-rays
    Scientists test radiation on HeLa cells to see how it'll affect human health. This led to the invention of x-ray screening.
  • HeLa cells used for cancer research

    HeLa cells used for cancer research
    Scientists split up the HeLa cells and grow them in different ways. They pay attention to patterns to see if they can recognize these patterns in other cells. Recognizing these patterns can help identify cancer and learn how to cure it.
  • HeLa cells are sent to space

    HeLa cells are sent to space
    Scientists send HeLa cells to outer space to see how radiation affects cells and to see how humans will react when sent to space.
  • Hydroxyurea

    Doctors discovered that when a drug called hydroxyurea was applied to the HeLa cells the growth of cancer sowed down. They also discovered that this drug prevented sickled shaping of blood cells and this would help with curing blood diseases.
  • Solving salmonella

    Solving salmonella
    The HeLa cells allow scientists to discover how salmonella infects the body. This leads to scientists finding out how to cure salmonella and how to prevent it.
  • Learning about cervical cancer

    Learning about cervical cancer
    Scientists discover that HPV leads to cervical cancer. The HeLa cells allow scientists and doctors to create the first vaccine against cancer.
  • Camptothecin

    Camptothecin is shown to slow down uncontrollable cell growth. It is later approved by the FDA and used to slow ovarian, lung, and cervical cancers.
  • Researching HIV

    Researching HIV
    Doctors realize that HeLa cells are not easily infected by HIV which leads doctors to study how HIV infects people. This helps minimize the spread of HIV.
  • Research on premature aging

    Research on premature aging
    HeLa cells show that DNA has telomere caps on them to slow down aging. This allows scientists to research premature aging.
  • Tuberculosis research

    Tuberculosis research
    Scientists use HeLa cells to see how tuberculosis makes people sick. With this information, scientists are able to make more effective vaccines and prevent tuberculosis.
  • Infectivity of Ebola and HIV

    Infectivity of Ebola and HIV
    Scientists learn that Ebola and HIV infect cells in a similar way. this makes it easier to create more effective Ebola vaccines.
  • Viruses can cause cancer

    Viruses can cause cancer
    It is connected that some viruses can cause certain cancers. HeLa cells make this discovery possible and Dr. Harald Zur Hausen wins the Nobel Prize for proving it.
  • Thalidomide

    Researchers use HeLa cells to discover that thalidomide, the morning sickness drug, causes birth defects. Scientists used the information on thalidomide to halt certain cancers.
  • Privacy and protection

    Privacy and protection
    The NIH agrees with the heirs of the Lacks family to share controlled access of the cells with biomedical researchers around the world. So anyone can access them, but only to a certain extent that doesn't invade privacy.