Henrietta Lacks. Born 1920. Black Virginian, tobacco farmer, steel worker. Cancer patient. Poor.
At Johns Hopkins, 1951, while being treated in the “colored” ward, a doctor passed on samples from hercervix to researchers, without her consent or even knowledge.
That same year, at age 31, she died.
Not all of her, though.
Cells derived from the two samples taken from an unwitting Lacks have lived on in labs for over 60 years now, used to research the effects of radiation, AIDS, the polio vaccine and much more. Here's what Rebecca Skloot, author of the 2010 book “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” told “Fresh Air” in 2010.
[The cells] were the first immortal cell line ever to grow in culture. Scientists put them in culture in 1951, and they just never died . They kept growing and growing and growing. And scientists had been trying to do that for decades, and it had never worked.
When she went to the hospital, she had a tumor on her cervix that was about the size of a dime, and within 6 months nearly every organ of her body was taken over by tumors. So her cancer grew incredibly fast in her body. When scientists put them in culture, they just took off. They doubled every 24 hours and they sort of piled onto each other and grew in these enormous … quantities that no cells had ever done before.
Those cells have done a lot of good — and also contributed to a lot of profits. The case, which is as much about class, gender and race as it is about science, has spawned ethical debates about informed consent among researchers. To learn more, you can read the book or watch the coming HBO movie based Read More ...
Source:: Future of You