Are You Using HeLa?

While I was reading chapter 5: Trusting The Untrustworthy, a woman named Nina Desai and her colleagues created a new tool that is used to produce test-tube babies. They had planned to use this tool to be provided as growth factors for human embryos to help infertile couples conceive. She reported that the procedure treated the embryos of 316 women and her test resulted in 111 healthy infants born to 76 women. A man named Christopher Korch came across her paper and was concerned on the identity of the cell line that she said she had used. Usually, the cells peter out but according to her paper, her cells kept growing. This indicated that she used something else in her cells to help them keep growing. These cells grow very rapidly and take over the other cells, this cell was called HeLa cell. HeLa cells have been around for over 60 years.  HeLa cells are a line of cells taken from a person and used for scientific research. HeLa is named after the person the cells were taken from which is Henrietta Lacks. HeLa cells were the first cells to survive in a test tube. The HeLa cells kept growing because Henrietta Lacks’ tissues had cancer cells. More than 7,000 studies have used Hep-2 not knowing that it was actually HeLa. A study in 2007 estimated that about 18 to 36 percent of all cell experiments used misleading cell lines. This means that most of these studies were incorrect and it cost them billions of dollars.  They also discovered that two cell lines were from a hamster. Many of the cells that theses scientist were using for their studies were misidentified and Amanda Capes- Davis, an Australian cell biologist and her partner discovered that over a hundred cell lines were contaminated. Capes- Davis made a cell- fingerprinting technology that identified the different cell lines. In the late 1990’s scientists at Stanford University developed a test that allowed them to to look at a biological sample and see which genes are switched. This helped them tell one type of cancer from another, they did this just by looking at patters to see which genes were active and which genes were silent. This  helped them discover that they were using a melanoma cell line but saying it was for breast cancer studies and now there are over one thousand papers featuring MDA-MB-435 that are sloppy and use the wrong cell which has set back research on breast cancer. Scientist-confused

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