HeLa cells are everywhere: every biomedical research lab has samples and they are in the middle of current disucssions about how “the new cell biology” will look like.
Of course I had heard of them before, but before reading Rebecca Skloot’s book The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks I had never wondered where they came from. For example, I was suprised to learn that they were named after Henrietta Lacks, the woman they originated from:
Henrietta was a black woman born of slavery and share-cropping who fled north for prosperity, only to have her cells used as tools by white scientists without her consent. (…) It was also the story of cells from an uncredited black women becoming one of the most important tools in medicine. (p225)
And what a great story this is!