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Wed Oct 13, 2021, 08:03 PM

WHO Honors Henrietta Lacks, Woman Whose Cells Served Science

Source: ABC News

GENEVA -- The chief of the World Health Organization on Wednesday honored the late Henrietta Lacks, an American woman whose cancer cells were taken without her knowledge during the 1950s and ended up providing the foundation for vast scientific breakthroughs, including research about the coronavirus.

The recognition from WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus came more than a decade after the publication of "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks," Rebecca Skloot's book about the discrimination in health care Black Americans faced, the life-saving innovations made possible by Lacks' cells and her family's legal fight over their unauthorized use.

"What happened to Henrietta was wrong," Tedros said during a special ceremony at WHO Geneva headquarters before handing the Director-General's Award for Henrietta Lacks to her 87-year-old son Lawrence Lacks as several of her other descendants looked on.

Lacks died of cervical cancer on Oct. 4, 1951 at age 31. The tissue taken from her at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore provided the first human cells to be successfully cloned. Reproduced infinitely ever since, HeLa cells have become a cornerstone of modern medicine, including the development of the polio vaccine, genetic mapping and even COVID-19 vaccines....

Read more: https://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/honors-henrietta-lacks-woman-cells-served-science-80561776



*(Video, adjust volume)



- Henrietta Lacks, a tobacco farmer, was buried in an unmarked grave in Virginia in 1951.

- Also, Henrietta Lacks: 'Mother' of modern medicine honoured, BBC News, Oct. 13, 2021.
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-58903934

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Reply WHO Honors Henrietta Lacks, Woman Whose Cells Served Science (Original post)
appalachiablue Oct 13 OP
Maru Kitteh Oct 13 #1
woodsprite Oct 13 #2
gblady Oct 13 #3
elleng Oct 13 #4
appalachiablue Oct 13 #6
BumRushDaShow Oct 13 #5
elleng Oct 13 #7
Ron Obvious Oct 14 #10
BumRushDaShow Oct 14 #11
Ron Obvious Oct 14 #14
BumRushDaShow Oct 14 #15
Ron Obvious Oct 14 #16
BumRushDaShow Oct 14 #17
Ron Obvious Oct 14 #18
hoosierspud Oct 13 #8
NotANeocon Oct 14 #9
Bayard Oct 14 #12
LT Barclay Oct 14 #13

Response to appalachiablue (Original post)

Wed Oct 13, 2021, 08:07 PM

1. The Immortal Cells of Henrietta Lacks

Just a staggeringly impactful book.


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Response to Maru Kitteh (Reply #1)

Wed Oct 13, 2021, 08:14 PM

2. It was required reading for entering freshmen at UD

The year my daughter started there. I read it as well, so I could have conversations about it with her. It was a great read. I was sorry I couldn’t attend the presentation given by the author to the freshmen.

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Response to appalachiablue (Original post)

Wed Oct 13, 2021, 08:16 PM

3. Totally agree on the book

Great read. What an amazing woman.

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Response to appalachiablue (Original post)

Wed Oct 13, 2021, 08:25 PM

4. It's a movie too:

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Response to elleng (Reply #4)

Wed Oct 13, 2021, 11:18 PM

6. I watched the movie, found it quite well done,

also moving, to say the least.

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Response to appalachiablue (Original post)

Wed Oct 13, 2021, 09:32 PM

5. Heard on the news earlier this week that her family is suing the company that benefited

and had also heard reports of them suing Johns Hopkins as well although the below article indicates that they were not yet party to the suit.

(when I worked as a chemist in the lab, Thermo-Fisher was a scientific equipment and supplies manufacturer)

Henrietta Lacks' family sues Thermo Fisher

By LAURA WADSTEN and ELLIE ROSE MATTOON | October 11, 2021



On the 70th anniversary of her death, the family of Henrietta Lacks filed a lawsuit against the biotech company Thermo Fisher Scientific for the commercialization of her now-famous cell line. Lacks’ descendants argue that the company profited from the cell line long after its unethical origins were publicly known. In 1951, Lacks was undergoing treatment for cervical cancer in a segregated surgical ward at the Hopkins Hospital. Without her consent or knowledge, a biopsy of her cells was sent to the hospital laboratory of Dr. George Gey for research. Unlike other cell cultures that died quickly after arrival in Gey’s office, Lacks’ cells continued to divide — indefinitely.

This immortal cell line, now known as HeLa cells, soon became a foundational tool for research. Lacks’ cells contributed to the development of the polio vaccine, in vitro fertilization and recently SARS-Cov-2 replication in human cells. Many accomplishments of modern medicine can be credited to HeLa cells. Currently, Thermo Fisher sells HeLa cells to researchers for upwards of $2,000 per milliliter depending on whether the cells are modified. Neither Lacks nor her descendants have received any financial compensation for the use of her cells. On Oct. 4, the family sued Thermo Fisher for the intellectual property of HeLa cells, as well as any profits related to the cell line.

Attorney Benjamin Crump, who represented the families of George Floyd and Trayvon Martin, is representing the family in the suit. Though some members of the Lacks family have previously mentioned legal action against the Hopkins Hospital, the institution is not a defendant in this suit. In June 2020, following Floyd's murder, Thermo Fisher Senior Vice President and President of Customer Channels Fred Lowry launched a $20-million social justice campaign with other Massachusetts executives to address systemic racism. In February, the company released a statement that it had donated $25 million toward minority-serving financial institutions.

In an interview with The News-Letter, Crump explained that the family is suing Thermo Fisher in order to hold it and other pharmaceutical companies accountable for their public commitments to social justice. “If you want to hold to the word that you are sincere in your commitment to social justice that you made after George Floyd, then why won’t you do right by Henrietta Lacks?” Crump said. Crump also stated that the Lacks family’s legal demands are based on strong legal precedents from inheritance law.

https://www.jhunewsletter.com/article/2021/10/henrietta-lacks-family-sues-thermo-fisher

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Response to BumRushDaShow (Reply #5)

Wed Oct 13, 2021, 11:20 PM

7. Yes, law suits been a 'thing' for quite a while.

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Response to BumRushDaShow (Reply #5)

Thu Oct 14, 2021, 08:41 AM

10. Ridiculous

What have they done that they need to be compensated for?

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Response to Ron Obvious (Reply #10)

Thu Oct 14, 2021, 09:28 AM

11. Thermo Fisher is selling the cell lines



I know reading can be difficult...

From the article excerpt I posted -

Currently, Thermo Fisher sells HeLa cells to researchers for upwards of $2,000 per milliliter depending on whether the cells are modified. Neither Lacks nor her descendants have received any financial compensation for the use of her cells.


A ml is relatively small measure.



I expect THAT is the impetus behind the suit. If it had been some research hospital or school and the cell lines were "donated" for research purposes, then that is one thing. But this was pure, unadulterated exploitation, with someone making money off of them without some kind of previous licensing agreement - or at least creation of a waiver.

But see back then, "negroes" were considered non-human and apparently are still considered so today.

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Response to BumRushDaShow (Reply #11)

Thu Oct 14, 2021, 01:57 PM

14. That's not an answer to my question.

I do know reading can be difficult, so let me repeat myself: what on earth have her descendants done or been deprived of that warrants compensation? Do you think they did the research required to produce these cell lines?

Additionally, Henrietta Lacks received free medical care in her day.

I detest lawsuit culture.

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Response to Ron Obvious (Reply #14)

Thu Oct 14, 2021, 02:31 PM

15. I detest "lawsuit culture" too

But I detest exploitation more.

Right here in Philly, after the MOVE incident and bombing of the organization's home, the remains of some of the children who died in the fire - basically bone fragments that were recovered - were removed for analysis and identification, and then packed away and only brought out as a subject for university courses in anthropology and archeology departments of 2 Ivy League schools.

A Philly museum kept the bones of a Black child killed in a police bombing. Decades later, it’s apologizing.

For decades, the bones sat discreetly in a cardboard box in a Philadelphia museum — the fragmented remains of a police bombing that had rocked the city more than 30 years ago. The city’s medical examiner had been unable to identify the pelvic and femur bones, burned beyond recognition. So city officials turned to Alan Mann, a forensic anthropologist at the University of Pennsylvania, to confirm they belonged to Katricia “Tree” Africa, a 14-year-old killed in the bombing.

Mann says he was never able to do so. Rather than returning the bones to her family, the university acknowledged this week that they were shelved away, shuttled between academics and used in videos for an online college course. That revelation — first brought to light this month in a Philadelphia Inquirer op-ed and a story in Billy Penn, a local news outlet — has reopened long-standing wounds in Philadelphia, adding a painful coda to one of the most notorious episodes in the city’s history: a violent night in 1985 when police bombed the Black radical group MOVE, razing a middle-class Black neighborhood to the ground.

In a public statement on Wednesday, officials at the university and its museum said they would work to return the remains to the Africa family and had hired lawyers to investigate how and why the bones had been stored away for so long. But Mike Africa Jr., an activist and second-generation MOVE member, said that more needed to be done following the “egregious” saga. “Who would do something like this? And without permission, without consent from the parents?” he told The Washington Post on Thursday. The victims, he added, “were people. They didn’t deserve to be bombed and then put in a lab to become research material.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/04/30/philadelphia-move-bombing-bones-upenn/


The Heath Director here who had been tasked to eventually deal with the disposition of the remains when it was finally brought up to him, essentially dismissed it and ordered them cremated - again, not contacting the surviving members of the family. He was forced to resign, right in the middle of the pandemic here, this past May -

Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley resigns over mishandling of MOVE bombing remains

By Emily Scott May 13, 2021

Updated 6:40 p.m.

Thomas Farley has resigned as Philadelphia’s health commissioner due to his involvement in the mishandling of remains of the victims in the 1985 MOVE bombing. His departure comes less than a month after news broke that a set of remains, thought to be 14-year-old Tree and 12-year-old Delisha Africa, were held at both the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton University for decades and studied by their anthropology and archaeology departments, without the Africa family’s knowledge.

The children were inside the MOVE headquarters when the City of Philadelphia dropped a bomb on the West Philly home, killing 11 people and destroying 61 homes in the neighborhood. Farley’s resignation, which is effective immediately, was announced on May 13, the 36th anniversary of the MOVE bombing. In a statement late Thursday afternoon, Mayor Jim Kenney said he learned of a “very disturbing incident” that happened during the first term of his administration in 2017, where Farley had learned of remains found by the Medical Examiner’s Office that belonged to the bombing victims.

Upon discovering them, Farley had the remains cremated and disposed of, rather than returning them to the family.“This action lacked empathy for the victims, their family, and the deep pain that the MOVE bombing has brought to our city for nearly four decades,” Kenney said in a statement.

https://whyy.org/articles/health-commissioner-dr-thomas-farley-resigns-over-mishandling-of-move-bombing-remains/


It was supposedly later indicated that the ME's office supposedly did not cremate the remains and the city is undergoing an investigation of this and next steps after that incident.

African Americans have been exploited since the time we were fucking dragged kicking and screaming to this country to work "for free" under the threat and use of the whip and other atrocious weapons. We're not zoo animals or pets or entities whose remains should be "put on display" or anything "biological" used for research and/or profit without permission and/or designation by that person or people for that use.

There. Now is that clearer?

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Response to BumRushDaShow (Reply #15)

Thu Oct 14, 2021, 02:34 PM

16. No

Because there was no exploitation in this particular case.

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Response to Ron Obvious (Reply #16)

Thu Oct 14, 2021, 02:47 PM

17. So right now if someone cut off your head

and put it on a pike, and then put that on display in a museum for paying customers to gawk at, while your family had the rest of the body to bury without the head, with no idea where it was or what happened to it decades later because the museum didn't bother telling them, you wouldn't consider that exploitative?

There was a good OP I saw the other day that had a some fantastic advice. "Don't argue with a fool".

I will that advice because I have found myself arguing with one.

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Response to BumRushDaShow (Reply #17)

Thu Oct 14, 2021, 02:58 PM

18. I'll take your advice about not arguing with fools

After your ridiculous comparison of cell line cultivation to cut off heads on pikes.

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Response to appalachiablue (Original post)

Wed Oct 13, 2021, 11:54 PM

8. I read about HELA cells in 1979 when I was writing a paper

On metastases during my cytotechnology training. Like Rebecca Sloot, I was fascinated by the story. Unlike her, I didn't go to the trouble of writing a book about it. A terrific read about science, but also, a rare chance to read a book about poor people.

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Response to appalachiablue (Original post)

Thu Oct 14, 2021, 06:35 AM

9. So let's ask the anti women - anti choice people -

since HELA cells are live human cells when did they begin? Are they human life? if you stop their reproduction would that be considered an abortion in Texas?

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Response to appalachiablue (Original post)

Thu Oct 14, 2021, 11:32 AM

12. An unmarked grave......

That says it all.

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Response to appalachiablue (Original post)

Thu Oct 14, 2021, 01:16 PM

13. There was an interesting article about her cell line in Discover magazine

Apparently there was some contamination issues in cancer research and many research groups were using cells that were from her line when they thought they were studying others. Ruined some careers, set some research back years. Now all credible journals require genetic confirmation of the cell line for publication.

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