Thursday, February 5, 2015

Study group discussion: Immortal cells

What do you know about immortal cells?

Cancer cells are immortal?

Yeah, like HeLa cells.

I had written a blog on it long back. Let me find it!

The blog I wrote isn't really on HeLa cells. But people who reblogged it on tumblr added this to it -
Tumblr reblogs:
I have read some thing like this before in the nonfiction book called the immortal life of Henrietta lacks. They took her cancer cells and studied them finding that the cancer cells were still living even after she past and outside of her body. I think, if I am remember correctly the cells are called HeLa. It's a great read.
Tumblr reblogs:
You’re right. HeLa cells are still used in scientific research. It is the oldest and most commonly used human cell line. The line was derived from cervical cancer cells taken on February 8, 1951, from Henrietta Lacks, a patient who eventually died of her cancer on October 4, 1951.

It doesn't matter if it's not about HeLa cells specifically :)
I just want to understand better how it works.

Oh.. Here's the blog link to immortal cells then

The HeLa cell line has a lot of ethical issues.. Because the person from whom the cells were taken from (without consent) didn't get any medical attention or superior care and the companies benefited a lot from it.

Thanks a lot :) and I didn't know any of the history.. It's really interesting

Yes, it's actually pretty wonderful that the cells are still alive. There were a lot of sci fi notes added to the tumblr post, I'll share them here as well.

Tumblr reblogs:
So if somehow we were to find a way to harness the cancer cell’s power, we could possibly live forever. We’d just have to find a way turn turn all the cells in the body into cancer cells, and then take away their ability to divide via mitosis. It sounds like sci-fi, but highly plausible in theory.
Tumblr reblogs:
Well there’s more to it than that, but in theory yes… You also have to consider that tumor cells don’t actually function other than continuously dividing. And often times, tumor cells build up a lot of free radical waste that can damage surrounding tissue.
Tumblr reblogs:
You have a point, but that isn’t entirely true. While most cancer cells are nonfunctional, many actually do function similar to a normal cell (though sub par). The main reason why cancer kills people is because the rapid growth of tumors causes pinched tissues and ruptures/hemorrhages. If we could figure out how to prevent mitosis and make all cancer cells functional, we could possibly become immortal.
Tumblr reblogs:
May I just say, I love sci-fi theories. Immortality through cancer cells.. Now that’s some brilliant imagination, right there!
Yes, some cancer cells can function. But it’s too much for the body to handle. If we could control metastasis, we could send some liver cells and gut cells at every waste generating site and have our free radicals scavenged!
Tumblr reblogs:
It's semi funny however those facts are not entirely true because the cancer cells die, usually you get necrosis in the tumors mostly bc the growth of the tumor is quicker than its ability to grow vessels, or vessels that actually can hold it together. "Cancer cells dont need anything" is another misconception. they are like any other cells but also not every cancer is the same either. Saying like the thing about being mostly anaerobic which is true for some and sometimes they are, however not always, thats why we do such things embolization therapy in tumors. And it can work. The oncogenesis and basically the whole process is way more complicated than it seems.
Tumblr reblogs:
They meant growth factors when they said they don’t need anything. Hell yeah, normal cell requirements without regulatory factors. Necrosis affects only the central portion of the tumor, doesn’t account for the fact that the cells are dividing on the edge of the lesion, making the tumor as a whole, immortal. Embolization cuts off the entire blood supply, artificially. They were talking about how they are immortal without considering interventions like chemotherapy, radiotherapy, resection and many other therapies that we can do, clinically. Biologically, they are immortal. I agree that not all cancers are the same, but the facts given out here are true.

I had only heard about immortal cells as a possible cancer therapy by using telomerase inhibitors or something like that.

As a therapy to treat cancer? Woah.

Let me look for it.

Links online say it's too risky to come true.

This article says telomerase inhibitors would treat cancer.

Or this one...

The article title though <3

Haha I know :)

Immortal army! *_*

My favorite cells come to the rescue.. T cells!

Interesting read. Thanks for the article!

There's another thing I read a while back that made me realise why any form of immortality is or will be problematic..
Remember the adenosine deaminase deficiency treated with gene therapy?
Trials have shown that the kids cured with gene therapy had a predisposition to cancer because of the virus (sarcoma virus or retrovirus, don't remember which) put in to carry the gene that treats the condition.
So it's like you go in to treat this and you come out with another disease.
It's why the gene therapy isn't out of trials yet. They're re-considering the risks vs benefits.

Oh... Well that's unfortunate... It seems like a cool idea. Genetics is only being developed anyway. There's a lot we don't know.

Awesome rock solid last discussion last night guys! Loving this group.
And concept of immortality marvellous!


  1. this is one of the best discussion I've come across!


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