Summary: Chapter 18

By the 1960s HeLa cells were ubiquitous in the scientific landscape. Both Russian and American scientists sent them into space to research the effects of space travel on human cells.

Scientists noticed that all normal cells grown in culture either died or became cancerous. Cancer researchers hoped to discover the moment healthy cells turned malignant. Once the cell cultures turned malignant, they all produced the same enzymes regardless of what kinds of cells had been in the culture. This odd fact led cell culturist Lewis Coriell to wonder if something had contaminated the cell cultures—possibly HeLa.

Coriell and other tissue culturists met to discuss the state of tissue culturing, and they recommended the NIH establish a library of cells. The NIH established a Cell Culture Collection Committee for a nonprofit cell bank of uncontaminated cultures at the American Type Culture Collection (ATCC).

French researchers discovered how to fuse the genetic material from somatic cells, cells that are neither sperm nor ova. British scientists fused mouse cells with HeLa cells, creating a cell that had mouse and human DNA. This hybrid allowed for breakthroughs in studying the human genome and organ transplants. However, the media reported on the study as if scientists had created human-mouse monsters, causing outrage.

Summary: Chapter 19

Deborah got pregnant at sixteen, and Bobette sent her to a school for pregnant teens. In 1966, she gave birth to her first son, Alfred “Cheetah” Jr. Bobette helped Deborah graduate high school. Lawrence ran a convenience store, and Sonny joined the air force.

Joe, on the other hand, had emotional issues. He dropped out of school in seventh grade. At eighteen, he joined the military, but his temper often landed him in solitary confinement. He was soon discharged. Upon returning home, another young man in the neighborhood, Elridge Lee Ivy, threatened Joe with a knife. Joe ignored him, but months later, Ivy beat up Joe for talking with a girl Ivy claimed was his cousin. The next day, Joe took a knife from Deborah’s kitchen and stabbed Ivy in the chest, killing him. Joe eventually turned himself in.