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What caused Henrietta's cells to survive when others didn't?

Created: 07/16/11

Replies: 3

Posted Jul. 16, 2011 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
lawrencec

Join Date: 07/16/11

Posts: 1

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

what caused Henrietta's malignant cells to survive and become applicable for medical research?
lawrencec


Posted Jul. 16, 2011 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
marthad

Join Date: 05/10/11

Posts: 25

RE: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

According to Wikipedia:

Doctors still have not discovered the reason for HeLa cells' unique vigor, but suspect that it is due to altered telomerase function. There are almost 11,000 patents involving HeLa cells


Posted Jul. 16, 2011 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
dianel

Join Date: 07/16/11

Posts: 15

RE: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Henrietta had that one in a billion mutation in her cells that was very fortuitously was found. Actually, many of the medicines used today happened by shear luck in the hands of a prepared mind.


Posted Jul. 17, 2011 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 558

Expert

RE: What caused Henrietta's cells to survive when others didn't?

There's a great book about the serendipity of many medical discoveries called "Happy Accidents" - http://www.bookbrowse.com/reviews/index.cfm/book_number/1957/happy-accidents which illustrates many examples relating to dianel's comment - as Churchill apparently said, "Men occasionally stumble across the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing has happened." - as the book jacket blurb for this book says, "within the scientific community, a certain stigma is attached to chance discovery because it is wrongly seen as pure luck. Happy accidents happen every day, but it takes intelligence, insight, and creativity to recognize a 'Eureka, I found what I wasn’t looking for!' moment and know what to do next."


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