In surfing the web I found articles talking about a company called “Senomyx, a San Diego-based research and development company, whose clients include food heavy-hitters Nestle, Campbell's Soup, Kraft Foods, and PepsiCo…” Senomyx conducts research with HEK293, originally derived from human embryonic kidney cells. Many individuals are boycotting specific food companies to pressure them to stop using Senomyx for research and development. “Gwen Rosenberg, vice president of investor relations and corporate communications for Senomyx, described the process as ‘basically a robotic tasting system.’ She depicted rows of little plastic square dishes with hundreds of tiny indentations in each dish. A protein is placed in each indentation, then a flavor. If the protein reacts to the flavor, the results are charted. If the new flavor (of which the company has more than 800,000) is successful with the protein test, the company then conducts taste tests with (live) adult humans.” So, to dispel any fears, no cannibalism is taking place in this process.
The history of HEK293 is easily found on Wikipedia. This cell line was derived from kidney cells that were harvested from a healthy aborted human baby by Alex Van der Eb in his laboratory in Leiden, The Netherlands in the 1970s. He cultured them and continued growing a cell line from them. Later, Frank Graham used cells from this line to perform a transformation with an adenovirus. The successful experiment that led to the HEK293 line of cells occurred on the 293rd experiment. He published his findings in the late 1970s. HEK293 is available for purchase by individuals doing research for all kinds of things including vaccines. Promega has a complete product brochure (data sheet) and is one of the vendors of this cell line.
In addition to research on food products, HEK293 is also used in the development of new influenza vaccines. Many articles are online demonstrating multiple uses of this cell line in vaccine development.
The use of human cells for research and development is not an issue for most people. If Alex Van der Eb had used cells from an unforeseen miscarriage with the permission of the parents, no one would bat an eye. The central point of concern here is that the cells were obtained as the result of an abortion. Vast numbers of people in the world today consider this as heinous a crime as murdering your next door neighbor because his dog barked at night making it very inconvenient, if not impossible, to sleep. Hitler’s slaughter of the Jews pales in comparison to the wholesale slaughter of millions of unborn children worldwide each year – Hitler’s 6 million versus 42 million abortions per year.
Of course some may argue that the original cells harvested from the aborted baby are long gone. And the HEK293 cell line is a transformation of the original cells anyway. Had Hitler’s scientists had the technology to harvest human cells from the Jews and grow them like HEK293, the entire Jewish community would never allow it to be used in research and development. To the average American today it would be considered horrific to use a cell line that originated from tissue from a Jew murdered during the Holocaust.
There does seem to be a shadow of doubt about whether or not Alex Van der Eb obtained the cells from an aborted child. Evidently his original records are gone. But he did do research on cells from aborted babies, so there is good reason to believe that HEK293 originated from just such a case. For a good discussion of this topic from a medical doctor’s viewpoint, see the article by Alvin Wong, MD.
Clearly, we may never know all the products that we use or consume that have been developed using research involving HEK293. It is a sad world we live in where such atrocities as abortion are used for profit and that the use of harvested cells from those abortions has so deeply penetrated our environment that we cannot be certain that we ourselves are not contributing to the profit taking inherent in this abominable practice.