A Conspiracy of Cells: One Woman's Immortal Legacy-And the Medical Scandal It Caused

Front Cover
SUNY Press, 1986 - Science - 170 pages
2 Reviews
A Conspiracy of Cells presents the first full account of one of medical science's more bizarre and costly mistakes. On October 4, 1951, a young black woman named Henrietta Lacks died of cervical cancer. That is, most of Henrietta Lacks died. In a laboratory dish at the Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore, a few cells taken from her fatal tumor continued to live--to thrive, in fact. For reasons unknown, her cells, code-named "HeLa," grew more vigorously than any other cells in culture at the time.

Long-time science reporter Michael Gold describes in graphic detail how the errant HeLa cells spread, contaminating and overwhelming other cell cultures, sabotaging research projects, and eluding detection until they had managed to infiltrate scientific laboratories worldwide. He tracks the efforts of geneticist Walter Nelson-Rees to alert a sceptical scientific community to the rampant HeLa contamination. And he reconstructs Nelson-Rees's crusade to expose the embarrassing mistakes and bogus conclusions of researchers who unknowingly abetted HeLa's spread.
 

What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - coolmama - LibraryThing

An excellent non-fiction about how Henrietta Lack's HeLa cells compromised thousands of cancer experiments in the 1960-1970s and how resistent the researchers were to acknowledging this. Read full review

Contents

Special Delivery
1
The Seed That Took
13
HeLagram
23
Out of Thin Air
33
In the Purple Palace
39
Keeper of the Cells
47
Mug Shots
53
Spreading the Word
71
Showdown
113
Even the Best of Labs
125
The Little Dutch Boy
133
Battle Fatigue
141
Legacy
147
Epilogue
151
Acknowledgments
153
Sources
155

Damage Report
87
Provenance
93
Another Runin With Relda
103

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (1986)

Michael Gold has been a writer and editor at the award-winning magazine Science 85.

Bibliographic information