Weekend Update: HeLa Lab

By Student Group

Photo source: Dalboz17

This week’s podcast is brought to you by Alice and Emily. They discuss our HeLa lab.

  • Anonymous

    Great Post guys! I found myself laughing when you guys were, great connection with the listeners! Just to elaborate on the beginning, I thought I would mention why they scientists thought that the HeLa cells should be considered their own species. Over time, after cells have divided there is bound for a mutation to occur. A mutation is a change or alteration in the sequence of DNA. There are many styles of mutations such as point mutations, and silent mutations (to learn more about the types of mutations follow this link: http://www.genetichealth.com/g101_changes_in_dna.shtml). Because the HeLa cells were growing and dividing so rapidly, they were nothing like what a normal cell should be. As said in the podcast, they are aneuploid cells. An aneuploid cell is when it has less or more than the correct number of chromosomes. In the HeLa cell’s case, they have a much greater number than they should have. As said, they were mutating so much that they were starting not to even be considered as a cell but as their own species! They were becoming so different that there was no relation from the divided cells to Henrietta Lax’s cells.


  • Anonymous

    Great pod cast, Alice and Emily! I really enjoyed doing that experiment in Biology as well. Unfortunately, my groups cells didn’t bust open too well and we couldn’t see the chromosomes on our own slide. However, we got to see them very clearly on Alice and Deirdre’s slide and in the photographs that Ms. Baker took at Yale. I am also really excited about the upcoming debate about whether the Lacks family should receive compensation for the HeLa cells or whether Johns Hopkins was entitled to use the cells. It was also really interesting that we got the chance to observe real cancer cells that have been dividing for 60 years. I was a bit scared that I would be able to catch cancer, however, I learned other wise. It turns out that each individual has a distinct MHC marker and that if a foreign cancer cell enters your body, the immune system will attack it because they do not recognize the cell. It was a very interesting week in Biology! What did everyone else learn?

  • Anonymous

    Cool podcats guys. What did i learn? I learned how to use a microscope. I learned how to zoom in and focus it properly. At first i found using the microscope kind of awkward because if I sat down i was to low to look into the microscope and if I stood up I was too high, but eventually I found a way to be able to be comfortable while looking at the hela cells. Unfortunatley i wasn’t able able to see any chromosomes because we probably weren’t able to break them open using the variation of height, but i saw the slide that James had and he was able to find a hela cell with all of the chromosomes spread out and they looked really cool. What were some of the procedures in this experiment and why did we have to use them to be succsessful?

  • Anonymous

    Great Job Alice and Emily! I had a great time in Science class this week as well. I’m sad to report that Emilio and I also didn’t seem to have successful results. Its great that everyone seemed to learn a lot this week in Bio. I had the most fun this week conducting the experiment and learning more about the cancer cells. I was really surprised when Ms. Baker was teaching us about cancer cells and Henrietta Lack’s cells and then suddenly announced that we would be conducting experiences with the actual cells. It even made me a little nervous thinking that the cells that we were using came from the actual Henrietta Lacks from a long time ago.
    I really enjoyed reading the article on cancer cells as well. I was interested to learn about how similar Natural selections is to cancer cells. We learned about natural selection towards the beginning of the year, and learned that it is about the animals that survive and evolve are the ones that most adaptable to their environment. And the same rules apply to Cancer cells in some ways. We also learned of different way that scientists plan on getting rid of cancer. Would anyone like to name a few?

  • Deirdre

    Good comment Eva! I can add onto your input on how scientists are going to try and cure cancer. One way scientists are trying to prevent cancer is by increasing the health of benign tumor cells, so they can try and over take the malignant cells. Another method scientists are looking into is improving the health of cells that are responding to chemotherapy. When the cells that respond to chemotherapy are improved in health, more and more of those responsive cells are made, and hopefully the amount of those cells will increase. I learned all these things from the article we read in class about evolution relating to biology.

  • Anonymous

    Nice comment Jess! During this lab I learned so much and became so interested in cancer cells and HeLa cells. One fact that you did not mentions is how many new scientific terms we learned! Before this experiment and all of the background information we learned I did not know a whole lot on cells, let alone cancer cells. Two extremely important terms that I came across were aneuploid and diploid cells. An aneuploid cells is a cell that has more or less than 46 chromosomes, or 23 pairs. A Diploid cells is a cell that has the correct number of chromosomes. In this experiment, we were taught that cancer cells, especially HeLa cells, are extremely aneuploid. This created a basic knowledge for me of cancer cells and helped me further understand them. Another term that I learned was chromatid. A chromatid is one-half of a replicated chromosome. The last term that I found extremely important was centromere. The centromere is the constricted region joining the two sister chromatids that make up an X-shaped chromosome. When the centromere is not functioning properly, the chromatids do not align and separate properly, thus, resulting in the wrong number of chromosomes in the daughter cells, and conditions such as Down syndrome.

  • Gurk_14

    Great podcast Alice and Emily, I’m proud to let everyone know that Nick, James, and I had a successful lab. Just like Dawood, I too learned how to use a microscope. What I learned from the lab was how to bust open the nucleus of the cell. Also I learned how you can spot the cells. When we tried this lab our first slide was more successful than the second one. Our second slide was not that successful because the nucleus did not break open and we ended up with a clump of dead cells. As my opinion this was the most by far fun and interesting lab we ever did. And I can’t wait for the debate we are going to have!

  • Anonymous

    I also loved this lab, as Eva said, I was in her group and we were having fun doing the experiment, breaking open cells, and later seeing them through a microscope. I learned to major things while doing the lab, firstly, that a biologists work is tedious. From being precise with a dropper, to slowly searching through a microscope for a lone cell with its chromosomes spilled out. However, I also learned that science isn’t always as high tech and complicated as it might seem. We dropped HeLa cells from a considerable height to break them open, we didnt dissolve them with a chemical or anything, we used a simple method, and sometimes simplicity is the answer to some problems.

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