Henrietta Lacks : The Ethics Of Immortality

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Henrietta Lacks: The Ethics of Immortality The most difficult aspect of scientific study isn’t always the study of science itself, but making sure that the scientific research conducted and/or practiced is within the range of what is ethically and socially acceptable. Certain scientific subjects tend to blur this line of progress versus ethics, such as stem cell research and gene modification. But how can one manage to keep both sides of the quandary satisfied? Such is the case with Henrietta Lacks and her “immortal” cells, known as the HeLa cell line, and how they were taken from her without her consent. The controversy surrounding Lacks’ cells enters morally grey territory, where there is no objectively correct side, and well-made…show more content…
George Gey, who had been attempting to grow human cells in a laboratory environment for years, to no avail. [2] All of the cells before HeLa were circumscribed to about 50 divisions before apoptosis, which made it difficult to use those cells for cancer research. However, Lacks’ cells continued to divide indefinitely and flourish in just about any environment. With this discovery, he published his work on the cells, which he named the HeLa cells, and sent them to other researchers around the world. [3] Thus, the HeLa cell was born. The HeLa cell line has been an invaluable asset to researchers around the world since its introduction. Not only were the cells used in the cure for polio, but they were also a nexus for the formation of a branch of science called virology where researchers infected the cells with various viral diseases in order to study and eventually cure them. HeLa cells have even been sent to space to test whether or not cancer cells grow there, which they can. [1] Essentially, the magnitude of the discovery of HeLa cells has made a lasting impact on science and continue to do so, as the cells are still used for their original purpose of curing cancer. However, all of these benefits have come at an ethical price. Although she signed a form that gave the doctor full permission to operate on her, Lacks gave no consent to relinquish
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