Henrietta Lacks: Her Cells, Her Legacy

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Cells are the smallest living units of life yet can have a powerful impact and can also give much insight to what the human mind can least expect. “Henrietta Lacks: Her cells, her legacy,” an article by Jessica Ravitz was published on the 21st of April 2017 (CNN Profiles ). The article was published on CNN’s website, a news outlet that is broadcast through television and as a source online. As it states in Ravitz’s biography through CNN, “she is a senior writer for CNN; along with reporting stories that relates to women’s health, faith, and quirk (CNN Profiles ).”

In 1951, Lacks suffered with a woman predominate disease called “cervical cancer.” In the article it stated that Lacks was near losing her battle with the cervical cancer, however before she passed cells were obtained from Lacks in the same year of 1951 (Raviz). The same cells that were obtained from Lacks, were the first scientifically known to reproduce outside of the body. Her cells created the name “HeLa,” gaining the name from the first two letters of her first and last name. Once researchers gain knowledge about Lacks’ unique cells, they become intensified, according to Ravitz “her cells became an invaluable tool for researchers and transformed what’s been possible in medicine (Raviz).”

There is often time that unethical issues tie with topics as such. Once Lacks passed away, her cells were carelessly given away, but not to family members (Beskow). The genome sequence of one of Lacks’s strain of HeLa cells were posted online in the year of 2013 by unknown researchers. Apparently during that time, it was not illegal to do so. “Doing so broke no laws or rules; large-scale sharing of genomic data sets is required by many funding sources and journals to promote replication of findings and further research (Beskow).” However, since it was publicly known who the cells were obtain from, including prior family members it became a concern. Once it became a issue, the researchers however removed the sequence from the public eye.

In conclusion, there are many ethical factors today, because the obtaining of Lack’s cells in 1951:

Her cells brought us the polio vaccine, in vitro fertilization and gene mapping. They’ve allowed for advances in cancer treatment, AIDS research, cloning, stem-cell studies and so much more. They traveled to the moon to test the effects of zero gravity, and scientists have sold and purchased them by the billions. (Raviz)

Henrietta Lacks have left behind a beneficial legacy, although it was out of her consent in the beginning. There people today who receiving those treatments to have a healthier lifestyle.

Once I had read over the articles and even the article that was not required, I was just appalled at some points. It is so important to read, because I learned so much that I’m glad I know now. I would have never known the history, or the ethical/unethical issues. I felt that it was disrespectful for the researchers to carelessly expose Henrietta Lacks’s information like they did. What if the family members did not what to know the sequence, and just happened to read upon the information? I believe researchers get so “big-headed” behind the next big thing, sometimes they don’t stop and think how it can poorly effect someone. Reading about the Henrietta Lacks and the HeLa cells history has been a lesson learned.

Work Cited

  1. Beskow, Laura M. “Lessons from HeLa Cells: The Ethics and Policy of Biospecimens” Annual review of genomics and human genetics vol. 17 (2016): 395-417.
  2. “CNN Profiles – Jessica Ravitz – Senior Writer, CNN Digital.” CNN, Cable News Network, 5 Jan. 2015, www.cnn.com/profiles/jessica-ravitz.
  3. Ravitz, Jessica. “Henrietta Lacks: Her Cells, Her Legacy.” CNN, Cable News Network, 21 Apr. 2017, www.cnn.com/2017/04/21/health/henrietta-lacks-legacy/index.html.

Cite this paper

Henrietta Lacks: Her Cells, Her Legacy. (2021, Oct 03). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/henrietta-lacks-her-cells-her-legacy/

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