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Oldest cultured human cell line (1951) / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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HeLa (/ˈhlɑː/) is an immortalized cell line used in scientific research. It is the oldest human cell line and one of the most commonly used.[1][2] The line is derived from cervical cancer cells taken on 8 February, 1951,[3] from Henrietta Lacks, a 31-year-old African-American mother of five, who died of cancer on 4 October 1951, and after whom they are named.[4] The cell line is durable and prolific, allowing it to be used extensively in scientific study.[5][6]

Scanning electron micrograph of an apoptotic HeLa cell. Zeiss Merlin HR-SEM.
Multiphoton fluorescence image of cultured HeLa cells with a fluorescent protein targeted to the Golgi apparatus (orange), microtubules (green) and counterstained for DNA (cyan). Nikon RTS2000MP custom laser scanning microscope.
Immunofluorescence image of HeLa cells grown in tissue culture and stained with antibody to actin in green, vimentin in red and DNA in blue
Immunofluorescence of HeLa cells showing microtubules in green, mitochondria in yellow, nucleoli in red and nuclear DNA in purple

The cells from Lacks's cancerous cervical tumor were taken without her knowledge, which was common practice in the United States at the time.[7] Cell biologist George Otto Gey found that they could be kept alive,[8] and developed a cell line. Previously, cells cultured from other human cells would survive for only a few days, but cells from Lacks's tumor behaved differently.

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