Henrietta Lacks’ ‘Immortal’ Cells
Journalist Rebecca Skloot’s new book investigates how a poor black
tobacco farmer had a groundbreaking impact on modern medicine
By Sarah Zielinski, Smithsonian.com, January 22, 2010
Henrietta Lacks was a black tobacco
farmer from southern Virginia who got cervical cancer when she was 30.
A doctor at Johns Hopkins took a piece of her tumor without telling her
and sent it down the hall to scientists there who had been trying to
grow tissues in culture for decades without success. No one knows why,
but her cells never died.
Henrietta’s cells were the first immortal human cells ever grown in
culture. They were essential to developing the polio vaccine. They went
up in the first space missions to see what would happen to cells in
zero gravity. Many scientific landmarks since then have used her cells,
including cloning, gene mapping and in vitro fertilization.
My note: Here's a story that begs for a bio-pic. Why another sports movie when these stories beg to be told?