Meet Måns

a Swedish Caucasian boy, of 3 months gestation (1961)

WI-26 (Måns)

WI-26 was developed from the lung tissue of a Swedish Caucasian boy, of 3 months gestation, who was aborted most likely in or shortly before 1961. The designation derives from Wistar Institute, fetal sample 26.

In 1961, Dr Leonard Hayflick[1] was working at the above-named Wistar Institute in Pennsylvania and investigating the role of viruses in human cancers, when he published a paper describing 25 human diploid cell strains (HDCS), named WI-1 to WI-25. Hayflick was quietly obtaining aborted babies (because it was illegal) from the University of Pennsylvania Hospital (diagonally opposite the Wistar Institute) in a bid to create cell lines.[2] These cell lines were derived from the lung, skin, muscle, kidney, heart, thyroid, thymus and liver of 19 separate, electively-aborted fetuses. The reason different organs were chosen was to test differences in how these tissues behaved in laboratory conditions.[3]

Then disaster: “My recollection,” says Hayflick, “is that while the paper[4] was in press our electrical freezer failed, and we lost everything. So I started another cell population called WI-26, since the first lost 25 were named WI one through 25. The WI-26 cell strain came from a male fetus and it was widely circulated, nationally and internationally.” In 1962, Hayflick, in collaboration with the UK’s Common Cold Research Unit,[5] described a new rhinovirus isolated in WI-26 cells.[6]

WI-26 was sourced from Sweden, where abortion was legal at the time, from Dr Sven Gard[7] at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm.

Hayflick cultured fetal lung tissues which he had received from male and female fetuses, and he named the male derived cells WI-26 and the female derived cells WI-38 and WI-44.[8] All embryos were obtained from surgical abortions and were of approximately three months’ gestation.[9]

The practice in at the Karolinska Institute at that time:

They would puncture the sac of a pregnant woman at 14 to 16 weeks, put a clamp on the head of the baby, pull the head down into the neck of the womb, drill a hole into the baby’s head and attach a suction machine to remove the brain cells… At 16 to 21 weeks, they would do prostaglandin abortions where a chemical is injected into the womb causing the woman to go into mini-labour and pass the baby. Fifty percent of the time, the baby would be born alive, but that didn’t stop them. They would simply open up the abdomen of the baby with no anesthesia, and take out the liver and kidneys, etc.[10]

This practice at the Karolinska was witnessed by Dr Ian McDonald.[11]

In 1974 the great English gynaecologist Dr Ian Donald, who ‘invented’ ultrasound, told me of witnessing modern experiments at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute on large, living aborted babies, cringing with pain.[12]

Experiments were being performed on near-term alive aborted babies who were not even afforded the mercy of anesthetic as they writhed and cried in agony, and when their usefulness had expired, they were executed and discarded as garbage.[13]

WI-26 is used in recombinant DNA for the drug Enbrel.


[1] Dr Leonard Hayflick (1928- ). Professor of Anatomy at the UCSF School of Medicine, and former Professor of Medical Microbiology at Stanford University School of Medicine. He is known for discovering that normal human cells divide for a limited number of times in vitro. This is known as the Hayflick limit. His discoveries overturned a 60-year old dogma that all cultured cells are immortal. Hayflick demonstrated that normal cells have a memory and can remember at what doubling level they have reached. He demonstrated that his normal human cell strains were free from contaminating viruses. His cell strain WI-38 soon replaced primary monkey kidney cells and became the substrate for the production of most of the world’s human virus vaccines. <>


[3] Rene Leiva, A Brief History of Human Diploid Cell Strains, in The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly, vol. 6, issue 3, autumn 2006, pp. 443-451

[4] This academic paper: Hayflick L, Moorhead PS. (1961) The serial cultivation of human diploid cell strains. Experimental Cell Research, 25: 585‒621.

[5] Tyrell DAJ, Bynoe ML, Buckland FE, Hayflick L. (18 August 1962) The cultivation in human-embryo cells of a virus (DC) causing colds in man. Lancet 2 (7251): 320‒322.

[6] Interview with Leonard Hayflick. A Controversial Life (31 May 2018)

[7] Dr Sven Gard (1905-98). Swedish virologist who played a decisive role in the eradication of polio. He was born in 1905 and grew up in Södermalm, Stockholm. In college at Södra Latin, Gard showed a talent for mathematics and natural sciences. He studied medicine and received a medical candidate degree in 1929 and a medical licentiate degree in 1934 at the Karolinska Institutet (KI). He early came in contact with microbiology, especially virology since the polio epidemics emerged as an ever-increasing threat in the 20th century. He made decisive action for the development of the Swedish killed polio vaccine. With this vaccine, the disease was eradicated from our country. < >

Extended text about Sven Gard (PDF). Text written by Erling Norrby. Submitted to Grant’s Office at Karolinska Institutet 2018-11-20, upon request, since Erling knew Sven Gard well, worked with him and also has written about him in his books. <>


[9] Leonard Hayflick et al., “The Limited In Vitro Lifetime of Human Diploid Cell Strains,” Experimental Cell Research 37, (1965): 615. See

[10] Dr Peter McCullagh, The Fetus As Transplant Donor: Scientific, Social and Ethical Perspectives. 
(John Wiley and Sons, 1987).

[11] Dr Ian Donald (1910-87). Physician who pioneered the diagnostic use of ultrasound in obstetrics. <>