Research with HeLa:
Being a vicious cancer cell in its own right, the HeLa line was originally derived for use in cancer research. HeLa cells are extremely malignant, even when compared to other cancer cells from malignant sources. Telomere shortening, which is implicated in eventual cell death after a certain number of divisions, is prevented in HeLa by the enzyme telomerase, which restores telomeres during mitosis. This is why HeLa cells do not experience cell death after a set number of divisions like normal cells, and even other cancer cells.
In addition to being very hardy, the HeLa line is extremely transfectable and very receptive to viral vectors, making it a popular research tool in virology. Since their initiation, HeLa cells have been used in transfection experiments all over the world to study viruses. It was the HeLa line that took up the polio virus and made the vaccine that eventually eradicated polio. HeLa is also receptive to Human adenovirus 3, Encephalomyocarditis virus, and Human polioviruses 1, 2, and 3.