Meet Gregory

a Caucasian boy from the UK, of 14 weeks gestation (1966)

MRC-5 (Gregory)

This cell line was developed by the Medical Research Council (UK) from the lung tissue of a Caucasian baby boy, of 14 weeks gestation, aborted in the UK in or before September 1966. His designation stands for Medical Research Council, cell culture 5.

[T]he MRC-5 cell line was developed in September 1966 from lung tissue taken from a fourteen-week-old fetus aborted for psychiatric reasons from a twenty-seven-year-old physically healthy woman.[1]

The cell line was developed by J.P. Jacobs and associates in September 1966. The British researchers wrote:

We have developed another strain of cells, also derived from fetal lung tissue, taken from a 14-week male fetus removed for psychiatric reasons from a 27 year old woman with a genetically normal family history and no sign of neoplastic disease both at abortion and for at least three years afterward… Our studies indicate that by presently accepted criteria, MRC-5 cells—in common with WI-38 cells of similar origin—have normal characteristics and so could be used for the same purposes as WI-38 cells.[2]

The cells were derived from the lungs of a 14-week-old normal male fetus at our laboratories in 1966. The family history was genetically normal; there was no indication of any congenital abnormalities and no sign of neoplastic disease at abortion.[3]

MRC-5 is used in (some) Polio, Rabies, Chickenpox, Hepatitis-A, Zostavax for shingles vaccines.[4]


[1] Alvin Wong, M.D., The Ethics of HEK 293, National Catholic Bioethics Center (2006), p. 476, in$FILE/ncbq_2006_0006_0003_0077_0099.pdf

[2] J.P. Jacobs et al., “Characteristics of a Human Diploid Cell Designated MRC-5,” Nature 227 (1970): 168, 170. See


[4] J. Jacobs et al., “Characteristics of a human diploid cell designated MRC-5,” Nature, Vol 227:5254 (1970), pp. 168-170. <>