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    Henrietta & David Lacks, c. 1945. Cancer cells harvested from Henrietta Lacks "during a biopsy and cultured without her permission" were the first human cells to be reproduced in a lab. They were used in medical research all over the world, but she and her family did not benefit. After the cancer killed Lacks, a lab assistant at her autopsy glanced at her painted red toes and thought: 'Oh jeez, she’s a real person.'" Caption info from Lisa Maronelli, NYT (at link)

    ✯ HeLa cell dying. This cell appears spherical because it is undergoing apoptosis, or programmed cell death. Apoptosis occurs when a cell becomes old or damaged. Blebs (vesicles) called apoptotic bodies form on its surface, which prevent toxic or immunogenic substances from leaking when it is phagocytosed (engulfed and digested) by specialist cells. HeLa cells are a continuously cultured cell line of human cancer cells, which are immortal & so thrive in the laboratory.✯

    time-lapse of HeLa Cell Division This simple, gorgeous image of a HeLa cell (the cancer cell line commonly used for cell biology) undergoing mitosis is my favorite photograph from the 2012 Wellcome Image Awards. Imagine, every cell that make up you and I undergo the same process.

    Collage of human cancer cells in mitosis.