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Tag: HeLa

HeLa Cells Sequenced!

Photo By: University of Arkansas
Wellcome Trust

The immortal cell, also known as HeLa cells, have been used by scientists for years for various medical research. But, until today the genome of HeLa cells was never known. Jonathan Landry and Paul Pyl, from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, performed the study to sequence Henrietta Lacks‘ genome, and what they found was quite remarkable. They found striking differences between her cells and the cells of a normal human being. The genome had abnormalities in both chromosome number and structure. They also found that countless regions of the chromosomes in each cell were arranged in the wrong order and had extra or fewer copies of genes, all telltale signs of chromosome shattering. Chromosome shattering has recently been found to be linked to 2-3% of cancers. Seeing as how Henrietta Lacks’ cells were taken from a cervical tumor, this is not a surprising find. However, because her genome had never been sequenced this was all new to Landry and Pyl. They said, “The results provide the first detailed sequence of a HeLa genome. It demonstrates how genetically complex HeLa is compared to normal human tissue. Yet, possibly because of this complexity, no one had systematically sequenced the genome, until now.” Another scientist, Lars Steinmetz, who led the project, added, “Our study underscores the importance of accounting for the abnormal characteristics of HeLa cells in experimental design and analysis, and has the potential to refine the use of HeLa cells as a model of human biology.” Although this study is nowhere near groundbreaking, it still helps to highlight the importance of the extensive differences that cell lines can have from their human references.

For more information on this study and HeLa cells in general, you can go to:


New Cancer Study that uses HeLa Cells

Credit Nick 960

A study at Loyola University Chicago Strich School of Medicine has discovered the role of a protein that aids in cancer metastasis, enabling 23 types of cancers (including breast, lung, pancreas, and thyroid) to spread to other parts of the body.  The protein CXCR4 functions in a complex signaling pathway that signals cancer cells to land at new sites and start new tumors.

Through the use of HeLa cells, medical researchers at Loyola University are better understanding the role of CXCR4, and by inhibiting this protein they hope to prevent the cancer from metastasizing.

Scientists hope to develop a drug in the near future that blogs CXCR4, and quickly bring it into testing on animals.  If the drug appears successful, it be tested in a clinical trial of cancer patients.

As Adriano Marchese, PhD at Loyola University states, “”We are laying the groundwork for the development of new drugs to stop cancer from spreading.”

For more information on the research studies being conducted at Loyola, visit the site:

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