Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How HeLa Cells Work


After she was diagnosed with the cervical cancer that shortly killed her, a tissue sample was taken from Henrietta Lacks in 1951 without her knowledge. Those cells would go on to become the first immortal line of human cells, something of enormous benefit to science and humanity as a whole. But while the line, called HeLa cells, became a multi-billion-dollar industry, her family languished without health care insurance. Learn about this complex case of private rights and scientific advancement in this episode.

Topics in this Podcast: science, privacy, health care, cancer