Week 10 – a mindblowing storytime

Apr 29, 2019

I can’t believe there are only two more weeks for my senior project! It feels like only yesterday I was working on understanding how to do labwork in TC (tissue culture room). Time flies when you have fun. Anyways, I am working on the final parts of my project and on my presentation so hopefully they will be done on time.

Most of my experiments are done on patient derived xenografts, which helps to model how the cancer cells would react in your body. Most of the drugs are first tested in pre-clinical trials and use xenografts to do the first round of testing on. One particular cell line that I was learning about had a quite interesting origin story and I thought I would share with you guys the story!

Origin story of HeLa cell line as told by Mabel (sources from Wikipedia and my lab mentor)

In Baltimore, there was a patient named Henrietta Lacks who was diagnosed with cervical cancer. According to my lab mentor, some samples of her cancerous cells were taken without her consent and “discarded”. However, biologist George Otto Grey, noticed that they kept growing and eventually developed into a cell line. This was significant because previously in research, cells would die in a couple of days however these would just keep growing. Hence, it was known as the immortal cell line. (Super cool if you couldn’t tell!) This meant a bunch of experiments could be done on them without having to re-culture (?) new cells. HeLa cells have been then used by the researchers to develop a polio vaccine and other stuff. Much to the Lacks’s family dismay, they only found out their relative’s cells were being used years later, but was dismissed in the Moore v. Regents of the University of California.

I don’t know if you found it interesting, but I hope it was at least educational 🙂



2 Replies to “Week 10 – a mindblowing storytime”

  1. Allister L. says:

    I didn’t think about this topic from this perspective! Very helpful Mabel

  2. Vanya B. says:

    I’m so glad to hear that you had fun with this project! I loved reading all of your blog posts, they always had so much to offer and really depicted a breakdown of your day. Awesome to have experienced this journey through your eyes!

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