vinces99 writes "Scientists have unveiled a comprehensive portrait of the genome of the world's first immortal cell line, known as HeLa, derived in 1951 from an aggressive cervical cancer that killed Henrietta Lacks, a 31-year-old African-American woman. The cells, taken without her or her family's knowledge, were pivotal in developing the polio vaccine, in vitro fertilization and cloning, and were the subject of a 2010 New York Times best-seller 'The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.' The Lacks family has never been compensated and, until this new University of Washington study, has never had a say in how the information is used. The study, published Aug. 8 in Nature, pieced together the complicated insertion of the human papillomavirus genome, which contains its own set of cancer genes, into Lacks' genome near an 'oncogene,' a naturally occurring gene that can cause cancer when altered. Scientists had never succeeded in reproducing cells in a culture until the HeLa cells, which reproduced an entire generation every 24 hours and never stopped. The cells allowed scientists to perform experiments without using a living human. The researchers discovered that the genome of the HeLa cell line, which has been replicated millions, if not billions of times, has remained relatively stable."