Henrietta Lacks, a black woman whose “immortalized” cell line has changed her drug, commended by the World Health Organization

On Wednesday the World Health Organization (WHO) Afterlife award Henrietta Lacks, a black woman who unknowingly biopsies cells in her body during cancer treatment and eventually helps her change her medical history.

Henrietta Lacks

National Institute of Health

Cells called HeLa cells from Lux’s tumors were the first human cells to be successfully cloned and have since been replicated indefinitely. In a statement from the WHO, these cells enable “immeasurable scientific progress” related to human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines, polio vaccines, HIV and cancer treatments, COVID-19 research, and even the effects of zero gravity. I did it. ”

Dr. Tedros Adanom Gebreyes, WHO Secretary-General, awarded the award and said it was important for the organization to recognize its non-consensual but critical contribution to modern medicine. For years, WHO said Lux’s race and story were hidden by the world’s scientific community.

“In honoring Henrietta Lacks, WHO recognizes the importance of promoting racial equality in health and science, taking into account past scientific injustices,” said the Secretary. “It is also an opportunity to recognize women who have made incredible but often invisible contributions to medicine, especially those of color.”

Lawrence Lux, one of Henrietta Lacks’ five children, won the WHO award on her behalf on Wednesday.

“My mother’s contribution was once hidden, but now she is justly honored for their global influence,” said the 87-year-old. “My mother was a pioneer in life, giving back to the community, helping others live a better life, caring for others. She continues to help the world when she dies. Her heritage lives on in us. Thank you for saying her name. “”

Lux was a mother of five when she was diagnosed with cervical cancer. According to WHO, cells taken from Lux’s body were “mass-produced for profit without being recognized by the family.” Over 50 million metric tons of HeLa cells are distributed worldwide and are the subject of more than 75,000 studies.

Dr. George Gay, a Johns Hopkins researcher, obtained Lux ​​cells in 1951. Johns Hopkins The website states that the company “has never sold or profited from the discovery or distribution of HeLa cells and has no rights to the HeLa cell line.” Rather, Johns Hopkins says it provides cells “freely and widely for scientific research.”

Earlier this month, the 70th anniversary of Lux’s death Her family complained Biotechnology company Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. said it was part of a “racially unjustified medical system” and sold the cells. The family demanded that the company tell Lux’s family the full amount of net profit they earned from selling HeLa cells.

“The Thermo Fisher Scientific knew that the HeLa cells had been stolen by Mr. Lux and chose to use her body for profit anyway,” the lawsuit said, and Lux ​​treated him. He added that in the 1950s he received a white doctor from Johns Hopkins who preyed on a black woman. With cervical cancer.

“The exploitation of Henrietta Lacks represents the unfortunately common struggle that blacks have experienced throughout history,” the proceedings said. “Certainly, black suffering has fueled countless medical advances and benefits, as well as compensation and cognition. Various studies, both documented and undocumented, have shown that black humanity The killing was successful. “

Among the family property lawyers is civil rights lawyer Ben Crump. “I want to finally hear the voice of my family, which has been ignored for 70 years,” he said. Crump told CBSN last week.. “American pharmaceutical companies have a shameful history of benefiting from research into blacks and their illnesses and physical exploitation.”

Henrietta Lacks, a black woman whose “immortalized” cell line has changed her drug, commended by the World Health Organization

Source link Henrietta Lacks, a black woman whose “immortalized” cell line has changed her drug, commended by the World Health Organization

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