Posts tagged with "dr. george gey"

The Legacy of Henrietta Lacks And Her Living Hela Cells

Henrietta Lacks was an African-American woman whose cancer cells were used to create the first immortal cell line, known as HeLa cells.

This cell line has been used in countless medical research studies, leading to major advances in medicine. However, Lacks’ cells were taken without her knowledge or consent, and she never benefited from the profits generated by their use. Her story raises important questions about medical ethics and the exploitation of vulnerable populations. Lacks’ family was unaware of her contribution to science for more than two decades.  In 2023 her descendants settled with a biotech company “accused of taking the woman’s cervical cells without her consent while she was a patient at John Hopkins Hospital more than seven decades ago.” 

According to The Baltimore Banner, the Lacks family is celebrating another win after a federal judge cleared their lawsuit against another biotech company to proceed. “The family of Henrietta Lacks can pursue compensation from a pharmaceutical company over its use of her HeLa cells, which have been influential in modern medicine after being taken without her consent decades ago.”

Here are some key facts about Henrietta Lacks:

  • She was born in Roanoke, Virginia, in 1920.
  • She was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 1951 and died from the disease in 1952.
  • Her cancer cells were taken without her knowledge or consent by Dr. George Gey, a researcher at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
  • HeLa cells have been used in countless medical research studies, leading to major advances in medicine, such as the development of the polio vaccine and cancer treatments.
  • Lacks’ family was not aware of the use of her cells until many years later, and they never received any compensation for their use.

Lacks’ story raises important questions about medical ethics and the exploitation of vulnerable populations.

  • Should patients be informed about the potential uses of their cells before they are taken?
  • Should patients be compensated for the use of their cells?
  • How can we ensure that vulnerable populations are not exploited in medical research?

Lacks’ story is a reminder of the importance of informed consent and the need to protect the rights of research participants. Her legacy is a complex one, but it is one that has helped to shape the field of medical research.

Cervical cancer: the legacy of Henrietta Lacks