Hela cells are the most widely used cell line in cell and tissue culture laboratories. It is this very cell line that was used to discover the polio vaccine.
Hela cells were first taken from Henrietta Lacks who died of cervical cancer. Henrietta Lacks was diagnosed with cancer of the cervix at Johns Hopkins Hospital in November 1950. The gynaecologist sent a cervical biopsy to the pathology lab for inspection. Unfortunately she died as the biopsy was being carried out. However, the scientist at the lab called George Otto Gey decided to grow cells extracted from the biopsy. He discovered that the cells where capable of growing indefinitely in cell culture flasks. He decided to call it HeLa cells after the 2 letters derived from Henrietta Lacks.
Today a lot of controversy has surrounded the Hela cell line. The cells taken from Henrietta Lacks were grown in flasks and even cultured to be sold to research labs around the world. Hela cells today are produced in large numbers from the very cell line taken in 1951 by various biological companies specialising in cells. The immediate family of Henrietta Lacks were unaware of the issue till a few years back. The demands are that she is given sainthood for her contribution to science.