Science Questions

Are some cells immortal?

Tue, 2nd Oct 2012

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Question

Inspired by Dr Samuel Furse, via Twitter asked:

Are some cells immortal?

Answer

Michael -   Yes, there certainly are cell lines that we can grow in the laboratory.  They originate from normal types of cells.  They may have become tumorous or cancerous in the body in some cases, or transformed as we call it within the laboratory.  After that, they can grow for very long periods of time, yes.

Ben -   So, these are immortal cells and they're essential for research.

Michael -   They are essential, but they do have limitations.  They have a lot of changes within the DNA.  They can sometimes have the wrong number of chromosomes, so they can tell us some things, but we often have to then confirm that in more normal cells.

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