The Immortal Henrietta Lacks

SOURCE: HeLa – Wikipedia

In 1951 a 31 year old women was admitted to the John Hopkins Hospital with symptoms of irregular vaginal bleeding, and was subsequently treated for cervical cancer.

As part of her treatment tissue samples from her cervix were collected. Amazingly the cells grew robustly, doubling every 20–24 hours unlike previous specimens that died out.

These “immortal cells” can divide an unlimited number of times forever if in the right laboratory environment.

These cells, harvested 72 years ago, have continually been used commercially for research into cancer, AIDS, the effects of radiation and toxic substances, gene mapping, and countless other scientific pursuits ever since.

Descendants of the women with the immortal cells have recently sued for compensation for the commercial use of their loved one’s cells despite “There was no requirement at that time to inform patients or their relatives about such matters because discarded material or material obtained during surgery, diagnosis, or therapy was the property of the physician or the medical institution.”

In subsequent years a court reaffirmed this by ruling (Moore v. Regents of the University of California) that a person’s discarded tissue and cells are not his or her property and can be commercialized.

Yesterday the descendants reached a settlement over the use of immortal ‘HeLa Cells.

That’s good news for struggling Americans trying to make ends meet. Paying with an arm and a leg certainly makes things a lot less costly than paying an arm and a leg.

According to a recent article in Wired magazine, a body could be worth up to $45 million — Calculated by selling the bone marrow, DNA, lungs, kidneys, heart … as components.