“I’ve experimented with Henrietta Lack’s cells too??”

A few weeks ago in class we discussed Henrietta Lacks and how the use of her cells formed the basis for so much of scientific research. I was previously unfamiliar with her story and after researching her I came across an article on her story that explains she is far from the only person this has happened to. The article was written by the person who wrote the book about Henrietta’s life and explains that “virtually every high school biology student, every medical student, and every vaccine maker has manipulated her cells. While fortunes have been on the foundation of the HeLa cells, her own children lacked access to education and basic health care.” The ethical issues surrounding the use of Henrietta’s cells is widely debated, but it certainly changes my opinion of the situation thinking that I may have experimented on this woman’s cells back in high school. I wonder who else I may have experimented on (probably not many people as my biology class did actually perform many high tech projects) and how this changes my perspective on it. The article explains how the market for human tissue has increased while people are being kept in the dark about the research. Except in some scenarios such as one described regarding a Native American Group who gave tissue to a scientist for research on diabetes and then sued (and won) when the scientist instead performed research about schizophrenia and in-breeding. It may be worth a few moments to reflect about what you are and are not ok with your cells being used for and hopefully, one day you will be able to always control that.


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