Before 1951, the ability to grow cells derived from animal tissue remained elusive. While cells derived could grow for a short period of time, they ignominiously died and could not be propagated. This changed in 1951 when a woman by the name of Henrietta Lacks was biopsied for a painful tumor and later died. Cells derived from her cervical cancer were found to thrive in an artificial environment. This gave rise to the birth of biotechnology and the techniques learned from propagating these cells would eventually lead to advancements in finding a Polio vaccine. For this assignment, listen to the Radiolab Podcast.
Post a response that addresses the following:
- First indicate the effect of voices heard in describing the historical events. Did they move you in any way?
- There’s a controversy over the ownership of the cells.
- Do you think it was appropriate to take cells from a biopsy for personal research without consent?
- Do you think it was ethical for the lab assistant to go into the morgue to retrieve MORE cells from the corpse without the family’s consent?
- Do you feel Henrietta’s economical status factored into the removal of her cells for such purposes without consent?
- Do you feel Henrietta’s racial background factored into the removal of her cells for such purposes without consent?
- Henrietta’s cells were freely passed along around the world. It is said that she is immortal because of this. Because John’s Hopkins did not make any money and aided greatly to the fields of Science and Medicine, do you feel that they are obligated to provide compensation to the Lacks family?
- Read through the following article about hairy cell leukemia. In this case, the University of California and David Golde received money from the sale of the cells derived from this biopsy. Is this fair independent of the outcome of the court case?
This assignment is due December 18th.