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What are human diploid cells?

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
Several vaxes are cultured in human diploid cells. What are those?
post #2 of 20
Cell lines derived from aborted fetal tissues.
post #3 of 20
Spy is absolutely correct. There are plenty of threads on this forum with the details. Just use the search option on the forum page.
post #4 of 20
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by applejuice View Post
Spy is absolutely correct. There are plenty of threads on this forum with the details. Just use the search option on the forum page.
I did, I just wasn't finding exactly what I was looking for.

Diploid is just a fancy word for fertilized egg, correct, because diploid means containing twice as many chromosomes, hence the merging of the male sperm and female egg? Do they say "diploid" instead of "embryonic" because the cells are still just a mass of cells and not a discernable embryo yet?

I ask because some package inserts use both terms, so I was uncertain on the difference.
post #5 of 20
The cell lines vaccines are cultured in came from fetuses that were several months gestation, but they were created a long time ago. I'm not 100% on this, but I'm pretty sure they harvested the cells from fetal lung tissue.
I'll be back in a minute with some links.
post #6 of 20
Thread Starter 
True, but the chickenpox vax insert,for example, lists both human embryonic lung cells and human diploid cells, so I am wondering why the distinction.
post #7 of 20


Human diploid cells are batches of human cells that are grown in a laboratory. Unlike cancer cells, they have the same number of chromosomes as normal human cells.

Certain diploid cell strains are valuable in vaccine manufacture because these cells can be used for a very long period of time in the laboratory and are a reliable means by which many viruses that infect humans can be successfully and easily grown. Vaccines prepared in human diploid cells have proven to be very safe over the past several decades.

Two different strains of human diploid cell cultures made from fetuses have been used extensively for vaccine production for decades. One was developed in the United States in 1961 (called WI-38) and the other in the United Kingdom in 1966 (called MRC-5).

WI-38 came from lung cells from a female fetus of 3-months gestation and MRC-5 was developed from lung cells from a 14-week-old male fetus.
So I don't know why they'd list lung cells and diploid cells independently...
post #8 of 20
Thread Starter 
That's weird. If both phrases refer to the same thing, why use them both in the same sentence?
post #9 of 20
I can't be on for long, so this will be brief (to the relief of many, I imagine ).

"Diploid" refers to cells that have a full complement of chromosomes. Each chromosome is a set, one half from the mother and one half from the father. So, two halfs to make one chromosome and that chromosome is diploid ("di" meaning two).

Sperm and eggs, in contrast, are haploid, with only half the chromosomes, one set from the father and mother, respectively.

Not all diploid cells are embryonic (if i chopped a chunk of your arm or leg or head, it would be diploid). But all embryonic cells are diploid, until the females start developing eggs.

I'm not sure why at times they would at time refer to cells as diploid and then as embryonic. In some situations, it is appropriate as they get the initial virus for the vaccine from a non-embryo. In those cases, "diploid" applies but not "embryonic". In some vaccines under development it makes a difference as they are using embryonic stem cells, which have a unique ability, more so then adult stem cells, to become other cell types. In other situations, my cynical guess is that they would prefer the term "diploid" because of the ethical concerns that "embryonic" raises in some.
post #10 of 20
Originally Posted by alisaterry View Post
That's weird. If both phrases refer to the same thing, why use them both in the same sentence?
I dunno. If I had to guess, I'd say that maybe there are a couple of different types of cells in the culture? Maybe the diploid fibroblasts that are what the virus grows in, and some other cell types that were harvested, too?
I really don't know...
post #11 of 20
Alisaterry, diploid refers to 2 sets of chromosomes (2n). You are a diploid, so am I. Sperm and eggs contain 1 set of chromosomes so are haploid (1n) and when they are joined and the chromosomes line up, the resultant embryo is a diploid. Human diploid cell lines are also derived from adults, HeLa probably being the most well known and widely used in research. Does this answer your question?

post #12 of 20
I thought HeLa cells had some kind of chromosomal abnormality?
post #13 of 20
This is wiki, but I've always found wiki to be ok for non-controversial medical stuff...


Horizontal gene transfer from human papillomavirus 18 (HPV18) to human cervical cells created the HeLa genome which is different from either parent genome in various ways including its number of chromosomes. HeLa cells have a modal chromosome number of 82, with four copies of chromosome 12 and three copies of chromosomes 6, 8, and 17.
Off topic, but I've always wondered if Henrietta Lacks was already infected with a few oncogenic HPV strains before her death.

And a personal conspiracy theory of mine is that HeLa cells might have contaminated a variety of biologicals given to humans a different points in history, resulting in the widespread infection with HPV we see today.
I don't have any proof, though. But I do know HeLa cells get all over the place in labs, and contaminate everything if you're not really, really careful. So I just can't imagine that biologicals didn't become routinely contaminated back in the day.
post #14 of 20
Ok, after this I truly am offline .

I dunno about your hypothesis with the HeLa strain, MK, as I haven't looked into much about HeLa (waaaay outside my field). But I read a while ago this interesting story about a documentary concerning Henrietta Lacks and the HeLa cell line. Here's a quote about the documentary and a link to the story:

..."I'm interested in the ethical - or not so ethical - relationship between Henrietta Lacks, her family, and Johns Hopkins University," Gilbert [the filmmaker] said, noting that the Lacks story is a cautionary one with major implications today. Neither Henrietta nor the Lacks family gave permission for her cells to be used for research; in fact, the family didn't learn about the proliferation of HeLa cells until the early 1970s. The Lacks family - still poor and struggling to access health care - has not been compensated for the use of Henrietta's cells...

And especially for Mamakay: ....Here, Gilbert explains, the story turns a strange corner: By 1966, HeLa cells were so virulent that they had, unbeknownst to the scientists who used them, taken over other cell lines used in research. In 1974, California researcher Walter Nelson-Rees published a "blacklist" of research contaminated by HeLa cells, discrediting millions of dollars of research....
post #15 of 20
Crisstiana, That was me that posted about the HeLa cell line. See, it is the most widely used cell line (that was cheek). Interesting factoid.


For crying out loud, I keep cross-posting.
post #16 of 20
Thread Starter 
This is fascinating. Thank you so much!
post #17 of 20
Originally Posted by alisaterry View Post
True, but the chickenpox vax insert,for example, lists both human embryonic lung cells and human diploid cells, so I am wondering why the distinction.
Possibly because there are two separate things.
1 - source of virus
2 - source of medium cell lines.

And sometimes there is more than one passage in more than one medium.

The Oka strain, a live-attenuated vaccine, and modifications to it has been the primary effort in active immunization. The Oka strain was developed by taking fluid from vesicles of a healthy 3-year-old boy with typical chicken pox. The VZV Oka strain was isolated in human embryonic lung (HEL) cell culture, passaged in guinea pig embryonic fibroblasts (GPEF)and then passaged in human diploid cells (WI-31). Two to three additional passages in MRC-5 cells were carried out to collect the vaccine pools.

As you can see, in case of varicella we have the whole crowd - 3 yo child, a source of HEL culture, guinea pig, WI-31, MRC-5.
post #18 of 20
to the op, i am not catholic, but this catholic article really explains the diploid cells well. it did to me anyway.

Immunity From Evil?: Vaccines Derived from Abortion JAMESON T. TAYLOR

"You've got to warn everyone and tell them! Soylent Green is made of people!" Science fiction fans may recall the 1973 classic Soylent Green, in which a wily detective played by Charlton Heston reveals that government food rations foisted upon the starving masses are manufactured from human body parts.
Discovering that several common vaccines are derived from baby body parts may not be quite as bad as eating Soylent Green, but for many pro-lifers it's a close second. While most parents are shocked to learn that their children have been injected with vaccines cultured on and containing residual components of aborted fetal tissue, anger turns to anxiety once physicians and school officials point out that the vaccines are necessary for children to attend school. Religious and philosophical exemptions are, however, available for those who cannot reconcile the use of these vaccines with either their Christian faith or firmly held moral belief in the sanctity of life.

Scandalous Origins

In the United States, 10 different vaccines for chicken pox, hepatitis A, polio, rabies, and rubella are cultured on aborted tissue from two fetal cell lines known as WI-38 and MRC-5. These vaccines are Varivax (chicken pox), Havrix (hep-A), Vaqta (hep-A), Twinrix (hep-A/hep-B), Poliovax (polio), Imovax (rabies), Meruvax II (rubella), MR-VAX (measles/rubella), Biavax II (mumps/rubella), and MMR II (measles/mumps/rubella). Alternative, pro-life vaccines are available in this country for all but the chicken pox, hepatitis A, and rubella inoculations.

The WI-38 "human-diploid" cell culture was developed in July 1962 from a "therapeutically aborted" three-month-old girl. "WI" is an acronym used by the Wistar Institute, an aggressive proponent of embryonic stem cell research. The August 1969 issue of the American Journal of Diseases of Children explains WI-38 was taken from a voluntary abortion performed in Sweden: "This fetus was chosen by Dr. Sven Gard, specifically for this purpose [use as a vaccine culture]. Both parents are known, and unfortunately for the story, they are married to each other, still alive and well, and living in Stockholm, presumably. The abortion was done because they felt they had too many children."
MRC-5 is derived from the lung tissue of a 14-week-old baby boy. MRC stands for Medical Research Council, a research center funded by British taxpayers. According to Coriell Cell Repositories, "The MRC-5 cell line was developed in September 1966 from lung tissue taken from a 14-week fetus aborted for psychiatric reasons from a 27-year-old physically healthy woman."

Development of the rubella vaccine actually involved not one, but 28 abortions. Twenty-seven abortions were performed to isolate the virus and one abortion (WI-38) to culture the vaccine. The vaccine's strain is called RA 27/3 (R=Rubella, A=Abortus, 27=27th fetus tested, 3=3rd tissue explanted). Rubella, or "German measles," is usually a harmless childhood disease. Ironically, rubella is most dangerous for preborn infants, who have a 20 to 25 percent chance of contracting congenital rubella syndrome if their mothers catch rubella during the first trimester. Scientists at the Wistar Institute took advantage of the 1964-65 rubella epidemic to legally acquire fetal tissue from at least 27 so-called therapeutic abortions conducted on women at risk for rubella. Since the live virus was not detected until the 27th abortion, the preceding 26 abortions were apparently performed on perfectly healthy babies. By contrast, Japanese researchers obtained a live virus by swabbing the throat of an infected child.

Cooperation with Abortion

In ethical parlance, using vaccines manufactured from fetal tissue entails "material cooperation" with abortion. Material cooperation may or may not be sinful depending on the circumstances surrounding the act. Four conditions determine whether using such vaccines is licit: the seriousness of the sin of abortion, the necessity of vaccination, the possibility of causing scandal, and the vaccines' role in encouraging additional abortions. Many pro-life ethicists believe using these vaccines constitutes "remote material cooperation" with abortion — cooperation excused by the distance of the consumer from the original abortions, the necessity of vaccine use, and the unlikelihood that purchasing the vaccines will cause future abortions. In August 2001, the U.S. bishops issued a statement allowing that parents "when they have no practical alternative, may use vaccines to protect their health and the health of their loved ones without serious sin, even if the vaccines were cultured in fetal cells that ultimately came from an elective abortion." The bishops were forced to address the question when President Bush used the abortion-tainted chicken pox vaccine to justify federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.

But "practical alternatives" do exist for these vaccines. No medical necessity requires the vaccines to be cultured on aborted fetal tissue. Safe and effective inoculations grown on animal cells or chick embryos are available for all but chicken pox, hepatitis A, and rubella — diseases mild enough to allow for the acquisition of natural immunity. Eighty-five to 90 percent of children develop immunity to chicken pox and rubella by the sixth grade. Hepatitis A is almost completely unknown in the United States — not because of the vaccine, which was introduced only in 1995 — but as a result of public sanitation systems. In countries where hepatitis A is prevalent, 70 percent of preschoolers who contract the disease don't even exhibit symptoms. Most children's chances of being harmed by chicken pox, hepatitis A, or rubella are arguably equal to risks associated with adverse reactions to the vaccines themselves.

Using abortion-tainted vaccines encourages abortion just as does purchasing any other product derived from fetal tissue. Indeed, these vaccines were the first fetal tissue therapies to gain widespread acceptance, and their popularity is frequently cited to promote fetal tissue research agendas. Over the past 10 years, numerous congressmen have referred to the vaccines to garner support for federally subsidized research on fetal tissue. The University of Nebraska likewise excused its fetal tissue program by invoking both the vaccines and the Church's toleration of their use. In Forbes v. Napolitano (2001), the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals used the polio vaccine, among other things, to strike down an Arizona law banning experimentation on aborted fetal tissue. The court specifically ruled fetal tissue research must be legal to guarantee women the fullest possible range of "reproductive decisions."

Your Rights as a Parent

Many ethicists, including the bishops, believe these vaccines are distinguishable from other types of fetal tissue research because they "use self-perpetuating cell lines." The cultures that produce these vaccines, however, are not immortal. All normal cells possess a finite lifespan known as the "Hayflick limit." After about 50 divisions, WI-38 and MRC-5 will be exhausted. If, when this day comes, pharmaceutical companies know they can create new cultures from aborted tissue without loss of profit, they will certainly do so because aborted fetal tissue is easier to use and more economical to obtain than other culture mediums. The pharmaceutical industry, in fact, has already developed an additional vaccine culture derived from the "socially indicated," elective abortion of an 18-week-old baby. PER.C6, as the culture is called, is currently being tested for use with at least seven new vaccines.

Absent definitive guidance from the Vatican, parents must determine for themselves — after much prayer and study — whether they can conscientiously use these vaccines. While most public and private schools require chicken pox and rubella immunizations, the courts have repeatedly affirmed that pro-lifers have a First Amendment right to refuse abortion-tainted vaccines. State public health officials and/or school administrators cannot lawfully second-guess sincere religious or moral objections to vaccine use. In addition to honoring parents' constitutional rights, Catholic school administrators must heed the Church's magisterial teaching regarding the inalienable right and duty of parents to make decisions affecting the welfare of their children.

Parents who object in conscience to abortion-derived vaccines may apply for religious or philosophical exemptions by contacting their state department of health.


Jameson Taylor. "Immunity From Evil?: Vaccines Derived from Abortion." Lay Witness (Jan/Feb. 2003).

This article is reprinted with permission from Lay Witness magazine. Lay Witness is a publication of Catholic United for the Faith, Inc., an international lay apostolate founded in 1968 to support, defend, and advance the efforts of the teaching Church.


Jameson Taylor is a Ph.D. candidate in political philosophy at the University of Dallas. Mr. Taylor's work spans a broad range of topics including bioethics, personalist philosophy, life and family issues, and American politics. Mr. Taylor writes from Front Royal, VA, where he resides with his wife, Jennifer. He is the author of America's Drug Deal: Vaccines Corruption. For more information go to jamesontaylor.com.

Copyright © 2003 LayWitness

post #19 of 20
Nataliachick7, this article does not come close to explaining diploid cells. It is inflammatory gobbledygook from an author whom should stay far, far away from science and is apparently not aware that the Vatican issued a formal doctrine with regards to the use of vaccines derived from aborted human cell lines in 2006:


post #20 of 20
Originally Posted by Science Mom View Post
Nataliachick7, this article does not come close to explaining diploid cells. It is inflammatory gobbledygook from an author whom should stay far, far away from science and is apparently not aware that the Vatican issued a formal doctrine with regards to the use of vaccines derived from aborted human cell lines in 2006:


Is the Vatican infallible?
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