Monday, February 15, 2010

Cheap Jokes R Us

I was talking the other day with Mauricio Santos-Lobos, author of The Spider Glyph in Time, and the subject of the HeLa cell-line came up.

"Mauricio," I says, "It has been demonstrated that a substantial fraction of in vitro cell lines - approximately 10%, maybe 20% - are contaminated with HeLa cells."

And he says "Is there going to be any mention of spiders in this post?" Old fever-wracked Santos-Lobos has a one-track mind.

"OK, here's a picture of mikey in his speedos, caught in a spiderweb. But as I was saying, HeLa cells have been overgrowing other tissue cultures ever since they were isolated in 1951, resulting in no end of occasionally career-ending wasted research. Details of the woman who unwittingly provided the HeLa cell-line were kept confidential for a while. For a while, one of the names being bruited about was 'Henrietta Lane'. So I had a plan..."

"Let me guess," says Mauricio. "You were inspired to write a song about Henny Lane who's in your ears and in your eyes --"

That's as far as he got before the ninja copyright lawyers broke the door down, seized him, and dragged him away kicking and screaming.

Bonus oncology: Just now I learned from Wackypedia that "the longest continually propagated cell lineage in the world" is a canine transmissible venereal tumour (akin to Tasmanian Devil transmissible facial cancer but less virulent) that seems to have been propagating through canine hosts for at least 6000 years.

13 comments:

ckc (not kc) said...

CTVT takes advantage of the popular sire effect of domestic dogs

...I'm more familiar with the unpopular sire effect (not firsthand, mind you)

fish said...

It is amazing that contamination persists given that HeLa cells are visibly different than almost every other culture cells, and they will crawl out of the dish given the chance...

ckc (not kc) said...

"HeLa, HeLa, my boyfriend's back!"

(sorry)

Another Kiwi said...

Well I can only comment on Unpopular Side Effects, usually involving flatulence.
People don't understand nature's way.

Smut Clyde said...

The wikitypedia references talked about dust-borne cells as one cause of cross-contamination... no mention of cells crawling amoeba-like out of one petri dish (pushing aside the cover-plate) and across the bench-top to invade neighbouring cultures...

mikey said...

I just assumed that some of the cells got a little rambunctious on a friday night and headed out to the pub for some beers, skins and poppers. Later, with their hair mussed and their little cell clothes disheveled, they returned home to the lab but in their drunken state they crawled into the wrong petri dishes and crashed out.

The moral? Yep. They shoulda used their Cell Phones!

ckc (not kc) said...

..how did those cells get on that dust? eh? eh? I bet they had help (not pointing any fingers, but we all know who's "cell-friendly", don't we!)

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

I now fear that fast food restaurants are now using rapidly propagating HeLa cells to make burgers.

(akin to Tasmanian Devil transmissible facial cancer but less virulent)

Damn placentals get all the breaks!

Smut Clyde said...

using rapidly propagating HeLa cells to make burgers.

Scum-skimming wasn't hard to learn. You got up at dawn. You gulped a breakfast sliced not long ago from Chicken Little and washed it down with Coffiest. You put on your coveralls and took the cargo net up to your tier. In blazing noon from sunrise to sunset you walked your acres of shallow tanks crusted with algae. If you walked slowly, every thirty seconds or so you spotted a patch at maturity, bursting with yummy carbohydrates. You skimmed the patch with your skimmer and slung it down the well, where it would be baled, or processed into glucose to feed Chicken Little, who would be sliced and packed to feed people from Baffinland to Little America.

Another Kiwi said...

I'm only guessing here but maybe J.Vance?

mikey said...

How much fucking mileage is Kornbluth gonna get outta one fucking story. It was 1952, fer fucks sake.

Night Gallery did a bang up job in what, 1969?

YAWN.

Whaddaya done for me lately, chicken little?

Smut Clyde said...

You kids today with your steampunk. Harumph. No respect for the masters.

M. Bouffant said...

OK, smart guy.