Genome of most used human cell line available to scientists following agreement between NIH and Lacks family

The genome of a HeLa cell line, sequenced by scientists at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany, is now available to scientists online, following an agreement between the National Institutes of Health (NIH), in the USA, and representatives of the Lacks family.

The scientists had sequenced the genome of a HeLa cell line in a study published in an early online version in G3| Genes, Genomes and Genetics in March, but withheld access to the data as soon as privacy concerns were raised by the Lacks family – descendants of Henrietta Lacks, the woman from whose tumour the cell line was originally derived in 1951. The final version of the paper is published today in the journal’s August issue.

“HeLa cells have already contributed immensely to biomedical research, and our data can now help improve the design of experiments,” says Lars Steinmetz, who led the work at EMBL.

“At EMBL we are committed to helping develop and refine international standards for access to scientific results and data as science progresses. Through fostering discussion, we wish to ensure adoption of a widely acceptable best practice,” says EMBL Director General Iain Mattaj, “We are grateful to both NIH and the Lacks family for having reached an agreement that will enable researchers to access this new data.”

Further information

EMBL press release about the study

Source Article

Landry, J., Pyl, P.T., Rausch, T., Zichner, T., Tekkedil, M.M., Stütz, A.M., Jauch, A., Aiyar, R.S., Pau, G., Delhomme,N., Gagneur, J., Korbel, J.O., Huber, W. & Steinmetz, L.M. The genomic and transcriptomic landscape of a HeLa cell line G3: Genes, Genomes and Genetics, August 2013 DOI: 10.1534/g3.113.005777.