HeLa cells have been considered an example of the immortal cell lines in which it reproduces beyond normal control that prevent cellular growth. These have been a subject for discussion and controversy since original cells sample that was cultured to grow these cells had been taken without even consent from Henrietta Lacks, the patient. As part of this Henrietta Lacks controversy, the cells illustrated some ethical concerns which are involved in the cell and tissue cultures including missteps in science history.
The tremendous sciences breakthrough was continually made through HeLa cells. it highlighted the contribution to the history of science despite the origins. Lacks’ death was caused by the aggressive cancer in the cervix which virtually invaded her body. The common practice during that time was through taking cancer cells samples for study. Other cells had been taken by a certain researcher who attempted to get some immortal cell lines to use for scientific studies.
During 1950s, it was common to take samples of routine tissues even without the consent of patients. Keeping their sources was not actually their primary concerns. The cells had been a code name “HeLa” which represents “Henrietta Lacks”.
Henrietta Lacks’ Family and their Concern
Her family learned about the usage of her cells in scientific studies and they had been concerned that these were used with no consent at all. These concerns led to various issues in the field of medicine. One of them was about the issue on tissue sample usage without asking the permission of patients. The changes in the way samples were handled and taken, and the process of getting consent had increased the ‘informed consent’ use in the research. The patients are presenting biopsies for their diagnostic procedures and they can be asked whether or not they want to donate their cells for research purposes.
There were also historic medicine distrusts in other communities, especially in racial minorities. Henrietta was black and other people perceived that this controversy had been a part of the legacy of cases in which people had been exploited due to medical purposes. The family was requested to donate blood for scientific research in some conditions that were not clear. Other members claimed that informed consent had not been obtained. They even thought they received cancer tests. Researchers stated that they were notified regarding the testing nature.
On the other hand, nonconsensual testing in terms of minority populations involved activities such as Tuskegee syphilis experiments into early birth control dosage on women in Puerto Rica. There were devastating consequences in their subjects. Such studies had been accomplished without the advantage of contemporary ethical review protocols and boards. These were done to protect the patients’ interest.
The experimentation’s history made populations quite reluctant to rely on research and scientists. It contributed to certain public health problems such as refusing treatments due to fear.
Research regarding this Henrietta Lacks controversy highlighted historical tensions in the specific areas of science. These are the need to study and desire for safety and health protection of research subjects and patients.