Monday, February 23, 2009

HeLa cells and HPV

Science researchers are always exposing themselves to certain risks. It is important to recognize these risks and be safe so as to not contaminate themselves. Having started a new job, I have been attending many different safety training sessions so that I know how to behave myself. Most things are a repeat of what I was told in grad school. But I did learn something new today.

HeLa cells are a VERY commonly used cell line in cancer research. They are cervical cancer cells that were harvested from Henrietta Lack (hence HeLa) around 50 years ago. Cervical cancer was the cause of her death, but her cells have been used ever since. Her cervical cancer was the result of HPV, and these HeLa cells being used in many research labs still contain a large part of the HPV genome. I never considered getting the HPV vaccine, until now. I do not currently work with HeLa cells, but that does not mean that I won't in the future.

I will also add that I think this giant push for every teenage girl to get the HPV vaccine is insane. No one knows what the long term effects of the vaccine will be. Not to mention all the drama that exists around vaccines (autism) and whether or not they are good. I think that it is extremely important for babies, children, adults to be vaccinated, but I also think that a line needs to be drawn. There is a vaccine for chicken pox. Yes, chicken pox made for an uncomfortable week, but it is a week that everyone had to go through. If autism is really caused by vaccines, why why why risk children with a chicken pox vaccine?? I can understand adults who never had chicken pox lining up for a chicken pox vaccine, I would if I didn't get to experience the fun in fourth grade. Adults get it worse. Kids can handle it!

This was my HeLa cells public service announcement. I'm sorry it turned into a little bit of a rant about vaccines...

1 comment:

Dhinakar said...

Hi Seeree,

Was the HPV vaccine recommended for scientists potentially working with HeLa cells at your institution?

If HeLa cells are accidentally injected into a lab worker by a needle stick, is there a danger of HPV transmission and cervical cancer for that researcher?

Is there any scientific literature or authorative opinion on this?

Dhinakar Kompala