Medical Definition of HeLa cell
HeLa cell: One of the cells grown from the cervical cancer of a young African-American woman, Henrietta Lacks. HeLa cells were the first human cells to be continuously grown in culture.
The cells were first cultured in February 1951 by Drs. George and Margaret Gey at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. The cells appear "immortal" and are still used in medical research today.
Who owns those cells? For many years, Lacks's children have sought recognition of their mother's contribution to science.
The designation "HeLa" was taken from the name of Henrietta Lacks.
Last Editorial Review: 5/13/2016
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