Talk:HEK 293 cells

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HEK vs. HEK 293[edit]

I'm all but certain that 'HEK' always means 'HEK 293'. I've never heard of any other kind of HEK cell line, and although it's technically possible to grow new primary cultures of human embryonic kidneys, it's not the kind of thing you'd do if you could possibly avoid it (human embryonic kidneys are difficult to come by, the paperwork's a nightmare, and epithelia are a bugger to grow anyway!).

If i'm wrong, we'll need to split the definitions of HEK and HEK 293. Everything on this page is about HEK 293s.

-- Tom Anderson 2006-03-11

As implied above, HEK can be used to mean any human embryonic kidney cell. All references cited in this article call them as HEK-293 or just 293 cells, not as HEK cells. Also, as someone using these cells regularly, I usually hear 293 cells in lab usage, with the assumption that their full name is HEK 293. Moreover, Google reports 31,000 uses of "HEK cell", while there are 590,000 uses of "HEK 293 cell" as of August 2013.
Also, not being able to grow primary human embryonic kidney (HEK) cells easily is not a reason to deny them their names. And they exist, and are clearly not 293 cells. Given the common usage attested by the references within this article, and Google usage, moving of this article to HEK 293 would be the reasonable action here. Enozkan (talk) 20:56, 29 August 2013 (UTC)

I redirected the 293 cell page (currently describing HEK 293 cells in little detail) to the HEK cell page. They are both referencing the same cell line.

There are also variants of HEK 293 cells which are transformed like HEK 293 T cells which are more adherent And the picture of starved HEK cells is not good, they rather look like dead cells. - Prajbio


The HEK cell photo is terrible. Looks nothing like properly adherent HEK293 cells. It misleads about the general morphology of HEK cells. AndrewHires (talk) 14:29, 11 August 2008 (UTC)

I agree with this - the picture is not representative of the "normal" appearance of HEK cells in culture. --Kristina —Preceding unsigned comment added by Schimmk2 (talkcontribs) 21:35, 26 September 2008 (UTC)

"transformation" link[edit]

Shouldn't the "transformation" link got to "malignant transformation"? Now it goes to a page talking about putting DNA i E. coli.Eaberry (talk) 18:59, 18 November 2011 (UTC)

You're correct, that link directs to the wrong transformation- in bacteria, transformation means adding DNA into cells, but for mammalian cells, transformation means to immortalize. malignant or not is a separate issue for cancerous growths also, please, someone replace that photo, those are some sick 293's-BDP — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:58, 15 May 2012 (UTC)


The section on Origins of HEK 293 Cells currently has this info, with no source:

The human embryonic kidney cells were obtained from a previously healthy aborted (whether naturally or induced is unknown) fetus …

Here are some citable sources related to that statement, which hopefully someone can integrate into the article:

Van der Eb’s own statement, transcribed from a 2001 meeting,, p. 81:

So the kidney material, the fetal kidney material was as follows. The kidney of the fetus was, with an unknown family history, was obtained in 1972 probably. The precise date is not known anymore. The fetus, as far as I can remember was completely normal. Nothing was wrong. The reasons for the abortion were unknown to me. I probably knew it at the time, but it got lost, all this information.

A paper by one Dr. Alvin Wong, who claims to have communicated with Van der Eb via email in 2003,, p. 475:

For the sake of the consciences of the people who work with HEK 293, I wrote to Dr. van der Eb at Leiden University, who confirmed that the records pertaining to the origins of HEK 293 were indeed lost, consistent with his statement to the FDA (e-mail message, October 27, 2003).

Since Dr. van der Eb does admit to working with tissue from induced abortions, even if there may have been one or more occasions of working with tissue from spontaneous abortions, it seems more likely that the tissue would be from an induced abortion. The convenience of getting tissue from routine, elective abortions compared to waiting for an unforeseen miscarriage supports this likelihood.

John lindgren (talk) 20:51, 14 March 2012 (UTC)

Assessment comment[edit]

The comment(s) below were originally left at Talk:HEK 293 cells/Comments, and are posted here for posterity. Following several discussions in past years, these subpages are now deprecated. The comments may be irrelevant or outdated; if so, please feel free to remove this section.

what's this 2xpbs transfection method that is supposed to work better than HBS? I can't find any clue when I google it... Does anybody have a reference for that?

Substituted at 01:01, 12 June 2016 (UTC)

Use by Senomyx to produce taste receptors to test new artificial flavorings[edit]

I just got done arguing with a bunch of demented conspiracy theorists propagating the insane belief that major food and drink companies harvest aborted babies en masse for use in flavoring their products. I was slightly surprised that this article didn't talk about the actual facts that inspired this belief, which is apparently quite popular in certain circles. I don't have time to do so at the moment, but I think it'd be good in the Applications section for someone to mention that Senomyx uses HEK 293 cells to produce taste receptors that are used to automate first-round testing of new artificial flavoring candidates. Ideally it should make it clear to the average reader that these cells are used to test chemical flavorings, not used as flavorings themselves. Snopes has a pretty good article on this. --Dan Harkless (talk) 16:58, 9 November 2017 (UTC)