AAT Bioquest

What are the differences between HeLa cells and cancer cells?

Posted April 28, 2022


HeLa cells and cancer cells are both types of immortal cells, with a few intrinsic differences between them. 

HeLa Cells 

  • HeLa cells are immortal cells derived from cervical cancer cells. They were originally derived from the cervical cancer cells taken from a woman named Henrietta Lacks, hence the name. 
  • These cells are used extensively in scientific research and studies pertaining to cancer, polio eradication, genetics, and virology.  

Cancer Cells

  • Cancer cells are immortal cells that are capable of dividing continuously, flooding the blood with abnormal cells or forming solid tumors. 
  • These cells are classified based on their origin in the human body. Common examples include blood cancer cells, lung cancer cells, breast cancer cells, or oral cancer cells. Although they usually originate in one part of the body, they often produce copies and spread to other parts of the body in a process referred to as metastasis. 
  • Cancer cells are primarily used for diagnostic purposes. They are used to identify different types of cancers in clinical settings and to study drug resistance. 
Additional resources

Chemical Toxicity on HeLa Cells