What does HeLa stands for?

A.F. Simpson AFS7 at le.ac.uk
Tue Feb 8 20:43:21 EST 2000

Nigel Dyer wrote:
> One thing that I have often wondered about is if these HeLa cells are so
> hardy, and managed to contaminate so many cultures then is it not likely
> that they have been 'contaminating' people as well and causing cancer?

It is possible, but vastly improbable, that a tissue culture cell line
might cause cancer in a human cell culture worker.  There are several

1. Tissue culture cells are adapted to growth in tissue culture.

2.  The worker would have to introduce a viable cell into their body. 
This is possible (eg, through puncture wounds) but not frequent.

3.  In order to form a cancerous growth, the cell would have to survive
the worker's immune system.  This is not the same as causing cancer in
the person the cell line originated from - every protein in that
introduced cell will be screaming "foreign invader!".  This is the
reason immune deficient mice and rats are used for cancer studies
involving injecting tumour cells.  An immune compromised individual
would, therefore, be at more risk from working with immortalised cells
lines - such individuals shouldn't be working in a cell culture lab
> Nigel Dyer


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