The immortal cells of Henrietta Lacks - Robin Bulleri

Imagine something small enough to float on a particle of dust that holds the keys to understanding cancer, virology, and genetics. Luckily for us, such a thing exists in the form of trillions upon trillions of human, lab-grown cells called HeLa. But where did we get these cells? Robin Bulleri tells the story of Henrietta Lacks, a woman whose DNA led to countless cures, patents, and discoveries.

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So here's my idea for MentoChrist:

So a century ago a virus broke out that started this whole Revolutionary War but its not focusing on that right now let’s just say that the virus Effect of the human cells and make it heal more faster and the world more better in general but they could peel off skin or flesh and transform it into anything but it depended how much less you use but the problem was that you would lose your humanity if you have the virus implying that they went crazy and killed everyone implying the war and the way it spread was blood to blood contact so after that war century ago which the humans won they also isolate yourself in a bubble kind of because outside was toxic and the bubble was filter it in And thankfully there generation didn’t know anything about it so the government wanted to keep it that way so they made the bubble show the ocean but only waste was outside and obviously the government would experiment so that’s where are main act agonist comes in Kied! He was one of the government lab rat for the experiments but he escape and now he’s on the run with Carly and Ashton which I’ll introduce soon~;)

3D-printed human cells could “replace animal testing”

3D-printed human cells could replace the need for animal testing of new drugs within five years, according to a pioneering bio-printing expert at the 3D Printshow in London.

“It lends itself strongly to replace animal testing,” said bioengineering PhD student Alan Faulkner-Jones of Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh. “If it gets to be as accurate as it should be, there would be no need to test on animals.”

Are We Really Made Up Of More Bacteria Than Human Cells?

We’ve been taught for decades that the microbes inside us outnumber our own cells. And we’ve often been told it’s by a ratio of 10:1. That number was first introduced in 1972 as more of a vague estimate, without much significant factual basis, and has been perpetuated ever since. Now, however, scientists have offered up a new estimate

Image Credit: MJ Richardson via

Can You Smell Yourself?

You might not be able to pick your fingerprint out of an inky lineup, but your brain knows what you smell like. For the first time, scientists have shown that people recognize their own scent based on their particular combination of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) proteins, molecules similar to those used by animals to choose their mates. The discovery suggests that humans can also exploit the molecules to differentiate between people.

“This is definitely new and exciting,” says Frank Zufall, a neurobiologist at Saarland University’s School of Medicine in Homburg, Germany, who was not involved in the work. “This type of experiment had never been done on humans before.”

MHC peptides are found on the surface of almost all cells in the human body, helping inform the immune system that the cells are ours. Because a given combination of MHC peptides—called an MHC type—is unique to a person, they can help the body recognize invading pathogens and foreign cells. Over the past 2 decades, scientists have discovered that the molecules also foster communication between animals, including mice and fish. Stickleback fish, for example, choose mates with different MHC types than their own. Then, in 1995, researchers conducted the now famous “sweaty T-shirt study,” which concluded that women prefer the smell of men who have different MHC genes than themselves. But no studies had shown a clear-cut physiological response to MHC proteins.

In the new work, Thomas Boehm, a biologist at the Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics in Freiburg, Germany, and colleagues first tested whether women can recognize lab-made MHC proteins resembling their own. After showering, 22 women applied two different solutions to their armpits and decided which odor they liked better. The experiment was repeated two to six times for each participant. Women preferred to wear a synthetic scent containing their own MHC proteins, but only if they were nonsmokers and didn’t have a cold. The study did not determine which scents women preferred on other people, but past studies on perfume have shown that individuals prefer different smells on themselves than on others.

The researchers wanted to know whether the preferences were truly rooted in the brain’s response to the proteins. So next, they used functional magnetic resonance imaging to measure changes in the brains of 19 different women when they smelled the various solutions, in aerosol form puffed toward their noses. “Sure enough, there again was a clear difference between the response to self and non-self peptides,” Boehm says. “There was a particular region of the brain that was only activated by peptides resembling a person’s own MHC molecules.” The brain had a similar response to all non-self MHC combinations, suggesting that any preference for how other people smell is a preference for non-self, not for particular MHC types.

(Image: Getty)

Cells Job

It’s a decades-old axiom in microbiology that people are more inhuman than human. Specifically, that bacteria and other microbiota in and on our bodies outnumber our own cells 10 to one. That ratio has been long and widely cited.

New research, not yet published but reported in Nature, suggests otherwise. A team of Canadian and Israeli scientists say the ratio is really more 1:1 – about 30 trillion human cells and 39 trillion bacteria, based upon a “reference man” (70 kilograms, 20-30 years old, 1.7 meters tall).

The numbers are approximate and likely vary by individual. Another person might have half as many or twice as many bacteria, for example. But, said the authors on a preprint of their study, “the numbers are similar enough that each defecation event may flip the ratio to favor human cells over bacteria.”

The old, apparently mythological ratio of 10:1 is ascribed to an American microbiologist named Thomas Luckey, who published his calculations in a 1972 paper. For a variety of reasons, they’ve persisted.

Even at reduced numbers, though, microbial diversity in and on humans is astounding. It’s estimated, for example, that several hundred distinct microbial species reside in the oral cavity and perhaps 1,000 or more in the intestinal tract. A 2015 study led by UC San Diego researchers mapped the chemical makeup of human skin surface in 3D, using a representative male and female, then correlated it to resident microbes.

Even after a good, long, soapy shower, we are not alone. We are never alone.

The image above shows diversity of bacteria and other molecules found on different parts of the skin for both the man and woman studied. Bacteria data on left; molecular on right. The color scale ranges from blue (lowest diversity) to red (highest). Hands, which touch a lot of things, show high diversity in both bacteria and molecules.

Listening to Cells: Scientists probe human cells with high-frequency sound

Sound waves are widely used in medical imaging, such as when doctors take an ultrasound of a developing fetus. Now scientists have developed a way to use sound to probe tissue on a much tinier scale. Researchers from the University of Bordeaux in France deployed high-frequency sound waves to test the stiffness and viscosity of the nuclei of individual human cells. The scientists predict that the probe could eventually help answer questions such as how cells adhere to medical implants and why healthy cells turn cancerous.

“We have developed a new non-contact, non-invasive tool to measure the mechanical properties of cells at the sub-cell scale,” says Bertrand Audoin, a professor in the mechanics laboratory at the University of Bordeaux. “This can be useful to follow cell activity or identify cell disease.” The work will be presented at the 57th Annual Meeting of the Biophysical Society (BPS), held Feb. 2-6, 2013, in Philadelphia, Pa.

The technique that the research team used, called picosecond ultrasonics, was initially applied in the electronics industry in the mid-1980s as a way to measure the thickness of semiconductor chip layers. Audoin and his colleagues, in collaboration with a research group in biomaterials led by Marie-Christine Durrieu from the Institute of Chemistry & Biology of Membranes & Nano-objects at Bordeaux University, adapted picosecond ultrasonics to study living cells. They grew cells on a metal plate and then flashed the cell-metal interface with an ultra-short laser pulse to generate high-frequency sound waves. Another laser measured how the sound pulse propagated through the cells, giving the scientists clues about the mechanical properties of the individual cell components.

“The higher the frequency of sound you create, the smaller the wavelength, which means the smaller the objects you can probe” says Audoin. “We use gigahertz waves, so we can probe objects on the order of a hundred nanometers.” For comparison, a cell’s nucleus is about 10,000 nanometers wide.

The team faced challenges in applying picosecond ultrasonics to study biological systems. One challenge was the fluid-like material properties of the cell. “The light scattering process we use to detect the mechanical properties of the cell is much weaker than for solids,” says Audoin. “We had to improve the signal to noise ratio without using a high-powered laser that would damage the cell.” The team also faced the challenge of natural cell variation. “If you probe silicon, you do it once and it’s finished,” says Audoin. “If you probe the nucleus you have to do it hundreds of times and look at the statistics.”

The team developed methods to overcome these challenges by testing their techniques on polymer capsules and plant cells before moving on to human cells. In the coming years the team envisions studying cancer cells with sound. “A cancerous tissue is stiffer than a healthy tissue,” notes Audoin. “If you can measure the rigidity of the cells while you provide different drugs, you can test if you are able to stop the cancer at the cell scale.”

(Photo: Image courtesy of UCSD Jacobs)

We often think of ‘growth’ as someone getting taller…or later in life, wider. But ‘growth’ is also the word used to describe the cell divisions, by which we go from a single cell to 100 trillion cells. Cell division is an intricate chemical dance that’s part individual, part community driven, and it is by no means a simple process.

First, watch the TED-Ed Lesson How do cancer cells behave differently from healthy ones? - George Zaidan.

Then, check out our making of, for insights on how TED-Ed animators created the stop-motion animation for this video.

A step closer to artificial cell division – by blowing bubbles

By blowing extremely small bubbles, researchers from the Kavli Institute of Nanoscience at Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) have found an efficient way of producing so-called liposomes – microscopic bubble-like structures often used to deliver medicine, but also a key to generating artificial cells. The scientists publish their findings in the online edition of Nature Communications on Friday 22 January.

Cell division

One of the greatest challenges in the life sciences today is the assembly of an artificial cell from a set of individual components, an effort driven by the urge to improve our understanding of how biological cells work. One of the first steps on the road to generating such artificial cells is the ability to produce liposomes. These are very small, bubble-like structures with a lipid wall and are filled with water. In this respect, they very much resemble empty “real” cells. Liposomes are already used for various purposes, including the delivery of drugs into the human body.

Lab on a chip

Researchers at TU Delft have now succeeded in producing liposomes in a very efficient way. They use a microfluidic ‘lab-on-a-chip’ technique to generate the structures assisted by minute liquid flows, in a process very much akin to blowing soap bubbles (see video). “Ways of making liposomes already exist,” says Siddharth Deshpande, a postdoctoral researcher in the team lead by Cees Dekker, “but they haave significant drawbacks for our purposes. They are too slow in their formation and, above all, not pure enough.”


The new ‘bubbling-blowing’ method uses a type of alcohol as a solvent. One of the problems with the earlier techniques was that they left behind an oily solvent residue in the liposomes. In search of a better alternative, Deshpande tried using 1-octanol instead. And the results exceeded all expectations, because the researchers observed that this substance moves quickly and spontaneously to one side of the newly-formed liposome, where it forms a droplet of 1-octanol which spontaneously separates from the host structure of its accord, within a few minutes.

“What remains,” Deshpande explains, “are pure liposomes with the dimensions of a biological cell, 5-20 micrometres, and surrounded by a lipid wall. We have since been able to show that this wall is very much like that of a ‘real’ cell – from a bacterium, for example.”


The new method has been dubbed octanol-assisted liposome assembly, or OLA. As Dekker explains: “OLA offers a flexible platform for producing the artificial cells of the future. We want to use the liposomes as the basic material for those cells. Our next goal is to divide them by adding special proteins such as FtsZ and ZipA, which form rings around the ‘equator’ of the liposome. We are already conducting experiments with this technique. If they succeed, we could make ‘soap bubbles’ capable of producing autonomous daughter bubbles. This should give us spectacular insight into the mechanisms bacterial cells use to divide.”

TU Delft

Human Cells have Electric Fields as Powerful as Lighting Bolts

Human Cells have Electric Fields as Powerful as Lighting Bolts

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Using newly developed voltage-sensitive nanoparticles, researchers have found that the previously unknown electric fields inside of cells are as strong, or stronger, as those produced in lightning bolts. Previously, it has only been possible to measure electric fields across cell membranes, not within the main bulk of cells, so scientists didn’t even know cells had an internal electric field.…

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