Untold heroes who defeated polio—to prove his vaccine, Jonas Salk needed 400,000 glass tubes🧪 w/ temperature sensitive “Henrietta Lacks cells” (from a Black woman)—cultivated by Black scientists at Tuskegee, who made 10,000 vials/week.

By @ainissaramirez scientificamerican.com/article/hidden…
2) researchers needed special “HeLa cells”, the living line of cells that were taken without permission from a Black patient named Henrietta Lacks decades earlier. After blood draw from vaccinated patient, it was placed in a glass dish along with HeLa cells & small dose of polio.
3) “With those items, a microscopic—and deadly—battle commenced. In the dish, the poliovirus tried to attack the HeLa cells. If there were enough of the proper antibodies in the patient’s blood, however, they blocked the virus from causing any harm.
4) “Scientists could readily see the cells under a microscope. If the HeLa cells looked misshapen, this meant that the right antibodies were not present in the blood.
To evaluate his vaccine, Salk would need tremendous amounts of HeLa cells.
5) “He would get help not from traditional established institutions such as Harvard University or Yale University but from a small Black college in the South, Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, founded by Black educator Booker T. Washington…
6) Russell W. Brown turned Tuskegee halls into the world’s first HeLa cell factory. Brown was designated as director of project, and James Henderson, a plant physiologist, assisted. **These Black men were asked to serve humanity in a time when their humanity was often denied**
7) “Inside the Tuskegee HeLa cell factory, cells were grown in a long line of incubators, measured into glass tubes, packaged and then shipped by air to about two dozen medical laboratories all over the country.
8) “Tuskegee’s mission was difficult for any school, particularly for a small, underfunded one located in the hot South. HeLa cells died when temperatures broiled around 105 degrees Fahrenheit.
9) “While air-conditioning had made the Sunbelt bearable and led to a migration to the South in the 1920s, these sensitive cells were doomed if they traveled in hot cars, waited on hot tarmacs or sat in hot airplane cargo hulls.
10) “Maria Telkes, a physical chemist at New York University, [came] up with a packaging solution to keep the cells cool while in transit. Telkes, an expert on thermal insulation, calculated and designed a special shipping container that resembled a Russian doll.
11) “In it, a box covered with insulation sat inside of another box… that kept the cells from overheating. Once placed in these boxes, the cells had to arrive at their destination within 96 hours.”

Tuskegee scientists cultivated and shipped 10,000 vials 🧪 to Salk every week!!!
12) where did the 400,000 Tuskegee made HeLa vials go? The polio vaccine trial involved “armies of 20,000 doctors, 40,000 nurses, 1,000 public health professionals, 14,000 school principals, 50,000 teachers and 200,000 volunteers to administer the injections….
13) “Overall, nearly 420,000 children were inoculated, and 200,000 were given placebo injections, with an additional 1.2 million other children observed in the study.”
14) “Within this huge health campaign was an astronomical number of HeLa cells, which resided inside the 400,000 glass tubes dispatched from a quiet corner of the South.
15) “These cells, originating from a Black woman and cultivated by Black scientists, made visible the effectiveness of a long-awaited protection against polio. Ultimately, Poliomyelitis Vaccine Evaluation Center announced that the vaccine was “safe, effective and potent.”
16) “The inoculation was approved for distribution, cases began to drop, & Salk a national hero. But the role of the Tuskegee Institute and its researchers remained hidden long after the fear of polio faded from the nation’s memory.”

Thx @ainissaramirez. scientificamerican.com/article/hidden…
17) p.s. HAPPY JUNETEENTH everyone.


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More from @DrEricDing

21 Jun
“NO MORE THAN MERE SECONDS” of exposure in 10-60 centimeters where one man triggers several #DeltaVariant infections with brief “fleeting” contact. Thousands of shoppers at NSW🇦🇺 mass tested. Delta called “near & present danger”.

HT @lizziepearl. #COVID19
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on.ft.com/3xzeFpZ ImageImage
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But antibody tests can be crucial for people with weak immune systems or on certain meds—
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New outbreak in 44 kids at a middle school in Israel 🇮🇱 with #DeltaVariant, the second such outbreak at a school this week—both Delta. Several fully vaccinated adults also infected at school. 🇮🇱 also recently stop requiring #COVID19 tests upon arrival. 🧵
timesofisrael.com/in-2nd-israeli… Image
2) Israel just approved vaccines for kids 12-15 in early June so kids under 16 haven’t been fully vaccinated yet. But even if fully vaccinated, while lower risk, #DeltaVariant is still problematic.
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HT @GosiaGasperoPhD Image
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3) just this week, CDC (at last) declared and upgraded the warning level of #DeltaVariant a “variant of concern”
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