In class last week, we spent a great portion of it discussing Henrietta Lacks and her “contribution” to science and research in the medical field. Now before I start discussing things about what her cells actually provided, I want to start off by saying I don’t think the way that John Hopkins obtained her cells were ethical. Now, most people would argue that the end outweighs the means, and while I would most likely end up agreeing, I feel that restitution would only be fair for the children of Henrietta. While a ruling has finally been given that has provided the Lacks family with closure, they still weren’t provided with any financial compensation after all the profits made. (http://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/nih-finally-makes-good-henrietta-lacks-family-its-about-time-f6C10867941)
After having read the biography written about her as well as doing some research of my own, I became amazed at how many things that have occurred simply due to one woman’s cells. One of the most amazing things is that her cells are still the one and only cells to have survived in culture this long. How is it possible that in all the time since these cells were found, NOT ONE OTHER PERSON has been able to replicate the cell replication and survivability of the HeLa cells. Her cells alone were the reason for polio to receive a vaccine. The things that one person’s cells have accomplished are unbelievable.
Her cells have continued to grow since they were initially taken without her consent. These cells are being use for profit nowadays, and that is something that really bothers me. Anyone can currently go online and order a set of HeLa cells and use them for whatever they want to do. I am completely against this. While I do understand that every company is out to make a profit, this king of thing really bothers me because Henrietta never gets to see a cut of the money. Neither does her family which is completely unacceptable. I can simply google Buy HeLa cells and I get a link which allows me to place an order right away. (http://www.atcc.org/products/all/CCL-2.aspx)
While it is amazing that we have had all the technological advances we have had in the last 30 years, it is crazy that nothing has allowed us to give up the use of HeLa cells. With all the simulation technology and the new virtual and synthetic drug makeups, HeLa cells are still one of the only kinds of cells of their own kind. Even more recently, they have slowly started using HeLa cells to get closer and closer to tumor treatments. As time passes, cancer treatment has only gotten better from the use of these cells. It will never cease to amaze me how one single person’s cells have opened up the possibilities for multiple treatments that no other person’s cells have even come close to.