The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

592 Words Feb 2nd, 2018 2 Pages
Many have pondered the idea that one day science will progress enough to make a human immortal. To this day, science has been able to reveal the properties that make cells immortal yet research has not discovered a way to modify humans to give them this incredible quality. It is known that a cell can undergo a series of replications before it reaches senescence, known as cell death. In Chapter 27 “The Secret to Immortality” of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Rebecca Skloot provided an explanation to why HeLa cells were “immortal” unlike other mortal cancer cells; the p53 tumor suppressor gene had been “turned off” by the Human Papilloma Virus Lacks had. She mentions how according to the Hayflick Limit, human cell’s were able to replicate an average of fifty times. In addition, she explains how telomeres in cells shrink slightly every time the cell divides. According to Aging Cell’s 2004 article “The Cellular Lifespan and Senescence Signalring in Embryonic Stem Cells,” tumor cells “have high telomerase activity” yet they are not immortal. HeLa cells, similarly to Embryonic Stem (ES) Cells have the tumor suppressor gene p53 turned off. This differentiates HeLa from other tumor cells; while other tumor cells will replicated more than the average cell and eventually reach senescence, HeLa continues to replicate to this day thanks to the HPV virus that turned off its…
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