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Testing cell cultures for contamination with mycoplasmas

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The WISH cell line
Leonard Hayflick Scientist
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About this time, as I mentioned earlier, my wife gave birth to our third child and I purpose arranged with the obstetrician to obtain the placenta and amnion. And because my laboratory was right across the street from University of Pennsylvania Hospital, where my wife delivered, it was very easy for me to take the tissue to my lab, which I did do to my wife's disappointment, in not having me by her side throughout her recovery. But she soon recovered. And I immediately cultured the amniotic tissue using the technique I described earlier, exposure to trypsin, etc.

And after several weeks of culture, I saw what I was certain was, and which later turned out to be true, a transformation occurring. So that these normal amnion cells had now converted to an immortal cell population and in keeping with the recommendations for naming cell lines at that time, recommended by the Tissue Culture Association in the United States, I named it WISH, which stands for the first letters of the following four words, Wistar Institute, the name of the institution where the observation was made, and the first two letters of the name of the donor, Susan Hayflick. And that cell line was described by me in an article and published in the journal Experimental Cell Research and the cell line became very popular.

Leonard Hayflick (b. 1928), the recipient of several research prizes and awards, including the 1991 Sandoz Prize for Gerontological Research, is known for his research in cell biology, virus vaccine development, and mycoplasmology. He also has studied the ageing process for more than thirty years. Hayflick is known for discovering that human cells divide for a limited number of times in vitro (refuting the contention by Alexis Carrel that normal body cells are immortal), which is known as the Hayflick limit, as well as developing the first normal human diploid cell strains for studies on human ageing and for research use throughout the world. He also made the first oral polio vaccine produced in a continuously propogated cell strain - work which contributed to significant virus vaccine development.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is a London-based television producer and director who has made a number of documentary films for BBC TV, Channel 4 and PBS.

Tags: Tissue Culture Association, WISH, Wistar Institute, Susan Hayflick

Duration: 1 minute, 56 seconds

Date story recorded: July 2011

Date story went live: 08 August 2012