posted on Dec, 8 2005 @ 08:57 AM
I heard about this... back when I was first in grad school, but I think this info is pretty old now.
Personally, and I've grown HeLa Cells for years, I wouldn't consider them to be a different species. Yes they are immortalized, but so are hundreds
of other cell lines that were taken from tumor or other genetically compromised tissues. Is each one of these immortalized cell lines a separate
species? According to what you've stated above, yes.
HeLa cells have no life of their own, they may survive quite well under laboratory conditions, but have not occupied any particular ecological niche.
If something happens to cease all tissue culture activities, HeLa cells will die off in a matter of days. They can't survive for long outside of
their controlled environment. They have no ability to withstand environmental extremes, etc. They've been propagated and contaminate many cultures
because of sloppy sterile technique and proliferative growth.
It's not like, you could contaminate yourself with HeLa, and three days later go into some other lab and infect their cultures.
I don't know any scientist considers HeLa a separate species.