Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by seeker311, Feb 1, 2010.
Henrietta Lacks? ?Immortal? Cells | Science & Nature | Smithsonian Magazine
So it's X-23?
all I can say is wow!
May be a good book worth checking out
No, she's dead. The HeLA cell line, on the other hand, continues. No individual cells are immortal, the culture itself, the population, continues to reproduce.
*Sigh*, not even the most basic comprehension of biology at all. Totally scientifically illiterate.
I don't care how poor you are at that point, if this is important to you, go to a friggin' library.
Oh, by the way, no. No money for the family: Moore v. Regents of the University of California - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Honestly, why should they? It was medical waste. The researchers did the actual work to identify the line and untangle the issue of contamination.
They are not, by the way, unique in being immortal. There are diseases of dogs and Tasmanian devils also caused by such lines.
Isn't the point of cancer cells, which the culture is from, is that they don't stop reproducing anyway! or are they saying that individual cells live forever rather than the cell line?
They're saying the line lives longer, much like cancer cells, likely due to long Telomeres in the cells that allow many more divisions before the cell ages and dies.
Sort of. It's been a while since my cell biology days at McGill University and the University of Zurich, but, from what I remember, the reason that HeLa cells are immortal is because various mutations and genetic changes have essentially removed the "replication cap" that is present in normal human cells, so the cells can divide indefinitely as a result. Given the fact that these cells are decended from Henrietta Lacks' cervical cancer cells rather than her normal cells and that cancer cells are notorious for their rampant proliferation and throwing accurate DNA replication out the window as mutations accumulate, it's doubtful that much of Mrs. Lacks' original genetic material has survived fifty years of replication in laboratories all over the world unscathed and unaltered.
A quick glance at the Wikipedia page on this confirms the fact that HeLa cells are seriously messed up. Normal human cells contain 23 pairs of chromosomes for a total of 46. HeLa cells have nearly twice that number, 82, with multiple copies of several chromosomes and god knows what else.
If they're so mutated, what kinds of stuff can the cultures be used for, I wonder? Like, will they respond the same way as normal cells to viral or bacterial infections? Do the tissue cultures function the same way macroscopically as normal tissues of similar type (or more to the point, do they even correspond to another type of regular tissue, or is it just tumerous)? Are they used to test response of cancerous tissues to various drugs?
Kill the mutant!!
Thanks for getting to this first, Lunar Archivist.
But yeah, there was even an idea floated to reclassify them as a new species for a bit, they are so far removed from the human genome at this point.
Frankly, the little monsters are a mess aside from two key attributes: their fecundity and durability, which are really all they need.
Ok, so this is what you do. You take this lady's cells, and you combine them with this thing here: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/science/article5594539.ece
I guarantee you'll have a fun time with that.
That's a good question! Again, I'm no expert and don't know the exact details since I've never really delved deeply into cancer research, but I'll do my best shot at answering. (Coeloptera, since you're evidently conversant with this, feel free to make additions or correct me. )
First, a bit of basic background information (to save some reading time for people for whom cellular biology is not a strong point):
I. There are proteins known as transcription factors which are responsible for controlling gene expression and activity by binding DNA. They're cellular regulators, if you will. As you might expect, since they're so important, you must be able to turn transcription factor production on and off in order to make sure nothing goes wrong.
II. Viruses can insert copies of their genetic material into specific locations in host cells, thereby allowing it to replicate its own genetic material at the same time as the host does.
Now, even if you know almost nothing about cell biology, as you can imagine, the genetic equivalent of random copying and pasting cannot possibly be good. At some point in her lifetime, a virus inserted its genetic material somewhere in Mrs. Lacks' DNA that disrupted the way the gene encoding a transcription factor called c-Myc is expressed so that the production switch was always in the "on" position. As a result, genes that were controlled by this transcription factor started being expressed in abnormal amounts, the end result being rampant and unregulated cell growth, i.e. cancer. Yes, you read that right: one small and totally random DNA screw-up caused the entire thing to snowball into this gigantic mess.
Now, to answer your questions, Aernaroth. Be warned, I'm no expert at this stuff, so don't quote me on it:
1. While you normally use bacteria to generate massive amounts of a given protein for research purposes, some can only be properly expressed in higher animal cells. Since they replicate so readily, HeLa cells could theoretically be used for this.
2. These cells could be used to study how telomerase works and may be useful in anti-aging research.
3. I'm not sure how these cells would respond to viral and bacterial infections, but given how mutated and how much extra genetic material has been introduced into them, I would be very wary of drawing any conclusions about "normal" human cell reactions from HeLa cell lines. It might depend on what aspect you wanted to study, though.
4. I'm leading towards their macroscopic behavior being abnormal. Cancer is essentially uncontrolled cell proliferation, so, instead of, say, a nicely organized "sheet" of cells in a petri dish, you'd probably get a small tumorous mound (or at least multiple layers or stacking).
5. You guessed correctly! HeLa cells are extensively used in cancer research and would be to test out anti-cancer drugs and see if you could either stop the cells from replicating completely or trigger cell death. For example, you could try and see if you could develop something that would inhibit c-Myc protein expression in these abnormal cells but not normal ones.
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