According to Defler, why was the discovery of HeLa cells important? 

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sciftw | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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HeLa cells are named after the person that the cells were originally harvested from.  The donor patient was Henrietta Lacks, a cancer patient at the time.  The reason that HeLa cells are so important to the medical profession and research is that they are the first cells to ever be successfully grown in tissue cultures in labs.  Even to this day, Lacks's harvested HeLa cells are still growing and reproducing.  They have been nicknamed immortal cells, and they are the most commonly used cell line for cellular research.  The sad part about the entire story though is that the cells were harvested and grown successfully without Lacks's knowledge.  So while the cells have been extremely resilient and widely commercialized, the Lacks family has received next to nothing in monetary payments.  

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gsarora17 | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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 “HeLa” cells are named after “Henrietta Lacks” , a woman who died from cervical cancer in 1951. Scientists had taken a sample of her cancer cells and, with them, made a breakthrough. Where decades of work had failed to get human cells to grow in a lab, suddenly Henrietta’s cells were growing endlessly.

The discovery of HeLa cells has played a crucial role in medicine. HeLa cells were part of research into the genes that cause cancer and those that suppress it; they helped develop drugs for treating herpes, leukemia, influenza, hemophilia and Parkinson's disease; and they've been used to study lactose digestion, sexually transmitted diseases, appendicitis, human longevity, mosquito mating and the negative cellular effects of working in sewers. Doctors have created the field of virology which is the study of viruses after infecting her cells with everything from measles to mumps so that they could see how the virus affects the cell. Because of her cells people were able to be cured by the advances in medicine.

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