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News > Black History > #WBLSIAMBHM: Guess Who Created the 1st Immortal Human Cell Line?

#WBLSIAMBHM: Guess Who Created the 1st Immortal Human Cell Line?

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Henrietta Lacks, died in 1951 of cervical cancer, in Baltimore, MD, leaving behind her husband and five children.

After Lacks's death, without the consent from her family, doctors used her cells to conduct scientific research that revolutionized the field of Medicine.

The HeLa strain, named after Lacks, is the first Immortal human cell line. When it was cultured for lab studies, unlike other cells, hers would not die; instead, the HeLa strain split and multiplied. The uniqueness of her cell survival, allowed for invaluable medical experiments and findings, including, becoming the first human cells to be cloned, in 1955.

The HeLa strain was also used to develop the Polio vaccine, treatments for HPV, salmonella, HIV, gene mapping, and more. Her cells are still being used today, over 65 years after her death.

In 1975, Lacks's family was finally informed of the non-consensual Medical contributions; it wasn't until 2013 that they were officially granted some sort of say, in the reproduction of her cell line.

Her cancer cells were used to revolutionize the medical field. Her cell line was named the HeLa line, and is known as the oldest and most commonly used cell line in scientific research. But no consent was ever given to test or use her cells. The woman behind this medical movement is Henrietta Lacks. 

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