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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

 

Helacyton gartleri

`When human body cells are removed and put into a cell culture, they weaken and die quickly, usually within about 50 divisions. Without the rest of the support structure—a heart, blood circulating, a digestive system and so-on—body cells can’t survive. Body cells also age, so even if you were to simulate the body’s environment in a test tube or petri dish, the cells would eventually perish anyway. The basic mortality of the cells reflect the basic mortality of the organism they comprise, which is why there’s no fountain of youth or medicinal procedure that’ll give you biological immortality.

There is, however, one human being who is biologically immortal on a technicality, and her name is Henrietta Lacks. In 1951 she showed up at John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, complaining of blood spotting in her underwear. Samples were taken of her cervical tissue and sent to a lab for analysis, which came back with a diagnosis of cervical cancer.’




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