The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Read about the woman whose cells have revolutionised medical research, including Covid-19 research
Published 04.09.21, 12:16 AM
Henrietta Lacks, an African-American woman, died of cervical cancer in 1951. Cells harvested from her cervix gave rise to the ‘immortal’ HeLa line which revolutionised biomedical research, in everything from the polio vaccine to cancer, hepatitis and HIV medicines. This is a fascinating dive into the history of the world’s most famous cell line and the woman they came from, raising important ethical issues of race, class, consent and ownership in medical research.
Published in 2011, the book has become even more relevant now, with scientists using HeLa cells to discover an important aspect of the infectivity and viral spread of SARS-CoV-2, which causes Covid-19.