HeLa cell, immortal human epithelial cancer cell line, SEM

  • Anne Weston, Francis Crick Institute
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HeLa cell, immortal human epithelial cancer cell line, SEM. Anne Weston, Francis Crick Institute. Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0). Source: Wellcome Collection.

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False-coloured scanning electron micrograph of part of a HeLa cell. Long projections (filopodia) extend out from the cell surface and are used to explore the cell's immediate environment. HeLa cells are an immortal human epithelial cell line derived from a cancerous tumour of the cervix (adenocarcinoma). It was established in 1951 from a biopsy taken from Henrietta Lacks, and was the first human cell line to survive and grow in the laboratory. Henrietta's cells were originally used in this way without permission from her or her family which raises issues about ethics and privacy. HeLa cells have been used extensively around the world in many different fields of research including cancer research, immunology and vaccine development. Width of image is 15 micrometres.

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