HEK293: Functionalizing abortion and human trans-splicing experiments via Human Embryonic Kidney 293 cells by Etienne Robillard
Tasting Human Embryonic Kidney Cells In Your Synthetic Gastronomy: The Evil is in the details
History of HEK 293
HEK 293 cells were generated by transformation of human embryonic kidney cell cultures (hence HEK) with sheared adenovirus 5 DNA, and were first described in 1977 (Graham et al., J. Gen Virol 1977 Jul;36(1):59-74). The story of this cell line is quite an interesting one, getting to the very roots of modern molecular biology. Frank Graham was working with Alex Van der Eb in the University of Leiden in Holland, and developed the calcium phosphate method of transfecting eukaryotic cells, an astonishing technique described in a classic paper (Graham and Van der Eb. Virology 1973 Apr;52(2):456-67); who would have thought that you would only have to mix DNA with a bit of calcium phosphate to get the DNA incorporated and even expressed in mammalian cells? The story of this discovery was described by Graham himself for Current Contents in 1988 (link to *.pdf here). By 1977 Graham had moved to Canada, and from there produced the other classical paper describing the derivation of the HEK 293 cells. There is also an interesting Current Contents article by Graham describing this work (link to *.pdf here). Also, check out the transcript of an FDA meeting entitled "Vaccines and related biological products advisory committee" which took place in May 2001. At this meeting Alex Van der Eb describes the work that led to the HEK 293 derivation. I was particularly fascinated that he actually speculated that these cells may have originated from a rare neuronal cell in the kidney cell cultures, since at about the same time but completely independently we had come to a similar conclusion (link to *.pdf here - Dr. Van der Eb's part starts on page 77, and the specific comment about the potential neuronal origin of 293 cells is on page 85).
- Placenta 
- Trans splicing