Family of Baltimore woman whose DNA taken without consent wins recognition for immortal cells
Some 60 years ago, an American doctor removed cancer cells from a poor black patient named Henrietta Lacks without her knowledge or consent. Those cells eventually helped lead to a multitude of medical treatments and laid the groundwork for the multibillion-dollar biotech industry.
The Baltimore woman’s saga was made famous by the 2010 bestseller “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.”
Now, for the first time, the Lacks family has been given a say over at least some research involving her cells.
Lacks’ family members have never shared in any of the untold riches unlocked by the material, called HeLa cells, and they won’t make any money under the agreement announced Wednesday by the family and the National Institutes of Health.
But they will have some control over scientists’ access to the cells’ DNA code. And the Lacks family will receive acknowledgment in the scientific papers that result. (AP Photo/Lacks Family via The Henrietta Lacks Foundation)