" IMMORTAL CELLS" do exist (relate to immetelstat)
George Otto Gey and Henrietta Lacks
HeLa cells stained with Hoechst 33258The cells were propagated by George Otto Gey shortly before Lacks died of her cancer in 1951. This was the first human cell line to prove successful in vitro, which was a scientific achievement with profound future benefit to medical research. Gey freely donated both the cells and the tools and processes his lab developed to any scientist requesting them, simply for the benefit of science. Neither Lacks nor her family gave Lacks's physician permission to harvest the cells, but, at that time, permission was neither required nor customarily sought. The cells were later commercialized, although never patented in their original form. Then, as now, there was no requirement to inform a patient, or their relatives, about such matters because discarded material, or material obtained during surgery, diagnosis, or therapy, was the property of the physician and/or medical institution (currently this requires ethical approval and patient consent, at least in the UK). This issue and Mrs. Lacks's situation was brought up in the Supreme Court of California case of Moore v. Regents of the University of California. The court ruled that a person's discarded tissue and cells are not their property and can be commercialized.
At first, the cell line was said to be named after a "Helen Lane" or "Helen Larson", in order to preserve Lacks's anonymity. Despite this attempt, her real name was used by the press within a few years of her death. These cells are treated as cancer cells, as they are descended from a biopsy taken from a visible lesion on the cervix as part of Mrs. Lacks's diagnosis of cancer. A debate still continues on the classification of the cells.
HeLa cells, like other cell lines, are termed "immortal" in that they can divide an unlimited number of times in a laboratory cell culture plate as long as fundamental cell survival conditions are met (i.e. being maintained and sustained in a suitable environment). There are many strains of HeLa cells as they continue to evolve in cell cultures, but all HeLa cells are descended from the same tumor cells removed from Mrs. Lacks. It has been estimated that the total number of HeLa cells that have been propagated in cell culture far exceeds the total number of cells that were in Henrietta Lacks's body.