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HeLa cells. Coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of a colony of HeLa cells. HeLa cells were the first continuously cultured human cell line. They were cultivated in 1952 from a cancer of the cervix of Henrietta Lacks (after whom the cells are named) who later died of cervical cancer. Like almost all cancerous cells they are immortal and so thrive in the laboratory. However, they are also poorly differentiated and lack some of the characteristics of normal cells, such as the proteins that build the junctional complex between cells. This means that they grow as a loosely attached cluster.
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