Preparation of a Human Chromosome Spread
Using HeLa Cancer Cells
HeLa cells are derived from a female cancer patient
named Henrietta Lacks. As with most cancer cells,
HeLa cells are immortal and divide uncontrolled.
These cells have been used to develop cancer drugs
and may one day help researchers find a cure for
Students prepared a slide of living HeLa cancer cells using advanced cytogenetic staining
techniques and then examined the abnormal chromosomes found within the cells.
Normal somatic cell = 46 chromosomes
Aneuploid cancer cell > 46
Normal human somatic cells contain 46 chromosomes. Students found that HeLa cells often
contained 50 - 100 chromosomes. This is a condition known as aneuploidy and it causes major
disturbances in the cell cycle. Cells with this condition often divide uncontrolled, leading to cancer.