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Researchers Unveil Genome of 'Immortal' Cell Line Derived From Cancer Victim

samzenpus posted 1 year,19 days | from the giant-book-that's-hidden-inside-you dept.

Biotech 81

vinces99 writes "Scientists have unveiled a comprehensive portrait of the genome of the world's first immortal cell line, known as HeLa, derived in 1951 from an aggressive cervical cancer that killed Henrietta Lacks, a 31-year-old African-American woman. The cells, taken without her or her family's knowledge, were pivotal in developing the polio vaccine, in vitro fertilization and cloning, and were the subject of a 2010 New York Times best-seller 'The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.' The Lacks family has never been compensated and, until this new University of Washington study, has never had a say in how the information is used. The study, published Aug. 8 in Nature, pieced together the complicated insertion of the human papillomavirus genome, which contains its own set of cancer genes, into Lacks' genome near an 'oncogene,' a naturally occurring gene that can cause cancer when altered. Scientists had never succeeded in reproducing cells in a culture until the HeLa cells, which reproduced an entire generation every 24 hours and never stopped. The cells allowed scientists to perform experiments without using a living human. The researchers discovered that the genome of the HeLa cell line, which has been replicated millions, if not billions of times, has remained relatively stable."

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Wow (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#44505433)

what a dupe, just 8 articles later...

Re:Wow (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#44505475)

Well, I guess this story, like the cell line, is infinitely replicating.

Re:Wow (3, Interesting)

Guppy (12314) | 1 year,19 days | (#44505491)

Well, I guess this story, like the cell line, is infinitely replicating.

So in other words, are you suggesting that Dupes are the cancer that is killing Slashdot? :P

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#44505575)

Just like on Stack Exchange, best to no longer allow new posts, it's the only way to be sure.

Re:Wow (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | 1 year,19 days | (#44505581)

yeah but samz writes better headlines than souls.

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#44506011)

yeah but samz writes better headlines than souls.

Maybe, but neither of them have a very good grasp of basic written English.

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#44507079)

"yeah but samz writes better headlines than souls."

But he does video like a 10year old.

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#44505613)

Well, I guess this story, like the cell line, is infinitely replicating.

So in other words, are you suggesting that Dupes are the cancer that is killing Slashdot? :P

No, that would be the clueless editors. [shakes head and wishes Cowboy Neal and CmdrTaco would return]

Re:Wow (1)

davester666 (731373) | 1 year,19 days | (#44506025)

It's not a tumor!

Re:Wow (2)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | 1 year,19 days | (#44506947)

It's not a tumor!

But it's too big to be a space station.

Re:Wow (2)

RDW (41497) | 1 year,19 days | (#44507095)

"Because of their adaptation to posting on popular technology sites, HeLa cell stories are sometimes difficult to control. They have proven to be a persistent technology blog "weed" that contaminates other news items on the same website, interfering with stories about Linux and forcing readers to declare articles as dupes. The degree of HeLa story contamination among other news items is unknown because few editors test the identity or relevance of already-submitted articles. It has been demonstrated that a substantial fraction of front page items on Slashdot - estimates range from 10% to 20% - are contaminated with HeLa cell stories."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HeLa#Contamination [wikipedia.org]

Re:Wow (2)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | 1 year,19 days | (#44506941)

what a dupe, just 8 articles later...

You've missed the opportunity to make a highly contextual joke: "This is a relapse!"

Immortal ... but dead? (5, Funny)

DavidClarkeHR (2769805) | 1 year,19 days | (#44505447)

Doctor: Well, I have good news and bad news.

Patient: Gimme the good news first, doc.

Doctor: Well, your cells are immortal... but ...

Patient: Seriously? REALLY?! Well, what's the bad news?

Doctor: Unfortunately, you're going to die from cancer in the next 3 months.

Patient: Well f&#$^@ kn3$9$#les.

Stable except for the cancer??? (0)

menace690 (531682) | 1 year,19 days | (#44505459)

Since its already a cancerous cell line, how can we be sure its actually useful. Wouldn't successful cancer treatments destroy it altogether? How about the resistance to genetic mutations, perhaps cancerous cells have a higher resistance to further mutations? Maybe instead of relying on one particularly incredible replication subject shouldn't have stopped us from trying to find more...

Re:Stable except for the cancer??? (4, Insightful)

jma05 (897351) | 1 year,19 days | (#44505535)

> Since its already a cancerous cell line, how can we be sure its actually useful.

It's the wrong question. After 62 years and 74,000 scientific papers, the cell line is not just useful, it's legendary. Every biology and medicine student reads about it in their text books.

> Wouldn't successful cancer treatments destroy it altogether?

It's a cell line. It's in labs (all over the world), not in a live person any more.

> Maybe instead of relying on one particularly incredible replication subject shouldn't have stopped us from trying to find more...

No one stopped from trying to find more. HeLa is not the only one. It's the first and the most popular one. Natural immortal cell lines are just very rare.

Re:Stable except for the cancer??? (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | 1 year,19 days | (#44506955)

It's a cell line. It's in labs (all over the world), not in a live person any more.

Which is a part of the problem. It's a persistent little bug.

Re:Stable except for the cancer??? (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | 1 year,18 days | (#44512107)

To add to that: the reason so many studies have used it is because it's a lot cheaper and easier than using "normal" cells. You have to be careful if you're making statements about normal cells to back up your results in normal cells, but as far as basic questions about cell biology, they're definitely "useful." Same rationale as using lab mice: no, they're not perfect comparisons to humans, and no, we're not studying mice to study mice, but it works. A lot less research could be done if we limited ourselves to using human cells only, due to costs, ease of experiments, and legal/ethical issues.

Re:Stable except for the cancer??? (2)

black3d (1648913) | 1 year,19 days | (#44505545)

We can be sure it's useful because it's been used successfully for trials since 1951. I know reading the article is passe, but this is in the summary. Here's a Wikipedia article if you'd like to know more. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HeLa [wikipedia.org] Additionally - the fact it IS a cancerous cell line is extremely useful in testing involving cancer drugs.

Re:Stable except for the cancer??? (1)

WaywardGeek (1480513) | 1 year,19 days | (#44505725)

I have to gripe about the statement that HeLa is "relatively stable." What the heck does that mean? Did they bother to count the number of chromosomes?!? Is it still even human, or are these cells simply adapting to the environment where they can succeed - in a medical lab. Surely HeLa has changed the world of medicine for the better, but claims that it's stable seem incredulous.

Re:Stable except for the cancer??? (4, Informative)

black3d (1648913) | 1 year,19 days | (#44505813)

FTWA:
HeLa cells have a modal chromosome number of 82, with four copies of chromosome 12 and three copies of chromosomes 6, 8, and 17. As these are cancer cells, orderly cell division does not take place. Therefore the number of chromosomes they have can vary considerably, even within a single culture.

Immortal Slashdot submissions? (3, Informative)

Gothmolly (148874) | 1 year,19 days | (#44505467)

The original is still on the front page. Good thing we have "editors".

Re:Immortal Slashdot submissions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#44505633)

The original is still on the front page. Good thing we have "editors".

I am beginning to think that the "editors" are actually poorly written shell scripts that replaced the real editors. Perhaps they should post some job openings on Dice. [ducks]

Re:Immortal Slashdot submissions? (4, Funny)

davester666 (731373) | 1 year,19 days | (#44506045)

Editors are there to make the summary inaccurate and misleading as well as to introduce basic spelling and grammar errors. Checking for duplicates of other submissions is outside of their job description

misleading title (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#44505489)

All tumor cells are immortal. i.e. they lack the apoptosis (programed cell death) that normal cells have. Tumor cells usually multiply (mitosis) slower than their normal countpart, but they do not commit suicide (apoptosis) when they should as normal cells do.

Re:misleading title (2, Interesting)

antifoidulus (807088) | 1 year,19 days | (#44505667)

It's not just tumor cells, cells infected with a wide variety of viruses do the same thing. Probably the most infamous among them are the herpes family and HIV. The cell immortality combined with the ability for the virus to remain latent are actually what makes both of those impossible to cure with current tech. However researchers into both viruses are pushing forward with techniques that could potentially prevent the virus from becoming latent which will cause the cell to die when the virus activates, thus allowing the virus to potentially be cleared from the body.

Get use to it (2)

p51d007 (656414) | 1 year,19 days | (#44505497)

Because, in our rapidly changing socialist world, the needs of the many, outweigh the needs of the one. Personal privacy, freedom, private property...gone because the "collective" run by a central authoritarian control, will run everything.

Re:Get use to it (2)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | 1 year,19 days | (#44505595)

Because, in our rapidly changing socialist world, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.

ftfy, now live long and prosper.

Re:Get use to it (1)

bickerdyke (670000) | 1 year,19 days | (#44506419)

Could I please come over to your world? I'm stuck in this rapidly changing capitalist world where the needs of the few outweigh the needs of the many.

Re: Get use to it (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#44509687)

Yeah. They should have monetized those cells and it them in the free market for exorbitant prices. Then instead of helping everyone they would help only the most fit in society as demonstrated by the soccer if their bank account.

Never had a choice in the matter? (3, Interesting)

MobSwatter (2884921) | 1 year,19 days | (#44505549)

Maybe folks missed the point on the original post? All of this research was from a cell culture acquired from an individual that never had a choice in the matter. All this research is going to earn mega bucks, but zero phucks and zero bucks granted by corporations to the family or individual that they have done this to, the donor. Ever wonder where the term 'crooks and liars' came from when referring to politicians? How about 'corporate bitches'? See?

Re:Never had a choice in the matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#44505623)

It's only fair that corporations can use her genome for free. Just imagine the bad things that could happen if we allowed patents on naturally occurring genetic material.

captcha: durable

Re:Never had a choice in the matter? (1, Insightful)

tftp (111690) | 1 year,19 days | (#44505643)

What would be a fair payment to the family for a sample of cells of a dead person? At that time nobody knew of any specific, unique properties of cells in that sample. Biopsies are always taken as part of the lab work. What happens to the cells later? Who cares? Is it even moral to try to stop a use of such cells if that use is so beneficial to the humankind?

Those megabucks that hundreds of companies earned were payment for the work of those companies. The HeLa cells only made it possible; but you cannot honestly charge an architect, today, 100x the price for the paper if his design, many years later, becomes known as the best building in the world. Your product - paper - did not become more valuable because a genius added something to it. HeLa cells would be useless if not another genius who recognized their value.

Was there an ethical problem? Perhaps. A permission should have been sought. But I, personally, don't care what happens to my body after I'm done using it. If it can be utilized with some benefit to others, more power to you. If not, just discard it.

Re:Never had a choice in the matter? (4, Insightful)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | 1 year,19 days | (#44505877)

What would be a fair payment to the family for a sample of cells of a dead person?

In 1952 there were over 3000 deaths caused by polio. Thanks to the vaccine, the disease was eliminated in the US by 1979.

I'd suggest we should, at a minimum, arrange for 100,000 people to swing by their house and say "thank you".

Re:Never had a choice in the matter? (1)

tftp (111690) | 1 year,19 days | (#44505953)

I'd suggest we should, at a minimum, arrange for 100,000 people to swing by their house and say "thank you".

As they say, no good deed goes unpunished :-)

Re:Never had a choice in the matter? (1)

holmstar (1388267) | 1 year,17 days | (#44523427)

How about they each just put $1 in a car and send that instead?

Re:Never had a choice in the matter? (1)

holmstar (1388267) | 1 year,17 days | (#44525175)

card*

What would be a fair payment (1)

voss (52565) | 1 year,19 days | (#44507449)

I dunno free healthcare for her and her decendants in perpetuity.

Re:What would be a fair payment (1)

tftp (111690) | 1 year,18 days | (#44512555)

I specifically mentioned "fair." Why would it be fair for the humankind to pay a tax to a group of people who haven't done anything to earn those monies? Some were just standing around when the unique characteristics of their relative's cells was discovered; others weren't even born yet. Neither they, nor Ms. Lacks herself, worked toward that goal. A religionist would say that Ms. Lacks got her cells from God. I'd understand if she made her own body by her own design, but that's not the case.

IMO, it would be fair enough to just name the line of cells after the donor - and that was done. Her descendants shouldn't be mentioned at all, since they haven't done anything that would warrant honoring them for this particular discovery. The society doesn't need yet another clan of trust fund babies.

Re:Never had a choice in the matter? (1)

c0lo (1497653) | 1 year,19 days | (#44505691)

All this research is going to earn mega bucks, but zero phucks and zero bucks granted by corporations to the family or individual that they have done this to, the donor. ... How about 'corporate bitches'? See?

Yeah, Henrietta Lacks worked hard and with a high determination, for 31 long years, to pick and nurture those cells which are now so successful, she was crealy a gen(iu/e)s creator... and now, how is she rewarded?

Re:Never had a choice in the matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#44506667)

America does not reward slaves.

Re:Never had a choice in the matter? (1)

kwbauer (1677400) | 1 year,19 days | (#44511047)

Yes, she did have a choice. She actually asked them to remove the cells from her body and "dispose" of them anyway they saw fit.

Re:Never had a choice in the matter? (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | 1 year,18 days | (#44514693)

Why should the *family* of the person whose cells were used get anything?

That sounds *awfully* like "copyrights last for 75 years after the death of the author" (whatever the actual # is) that people here complain about all the time.

As long as the person was actually medically treated as well as possible at the time (there wasn't some Bond villain harvesting their cells but letting the person die), it seems like that person should get something for their contribution, but why continue it?

billions of times (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#44505563)

Actually the number of days between when Ms Lacks died (October 4, 1951 --Google) and today August 7, 2013 is 22588 days. If the cells reproduce every 24 hours, then that's not billions but only 22588 times. Still 22588 generations is enough for evolution to take its hand (although if they are growing in a petrie dish under standard uniform conditions, the generations merely adapt to the petrie dish).

Re:billions of times (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | 1 year,19 days | (#44505573)

Sure if if there were only a single culture of these cells. Protip: there isn't.

Re:billions of times (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#44505579)

44000 cultures sounds like a lot.

Re:billions of times (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | 1 year,19 days | (#44505599)

Why? These cells have been used by a numerous amount of researches around the world for decades.

Re:billions of times (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | 1 year,19 days | (#44505601)

Researchers*

Re:billions of times (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | 1 year,19 days | (#44505607)

Also to add, there are numerous strains of HeLa derived from the original line. So it's actually quite likely to have such a number.

Re:billions of times (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | 1 year,19 days | (#44505605)

it's not billions of rounds of growth, but billions of individual mitosis events. 2^22588, to first order approximation.

Re:billions of times (1)

c0lo (1497653) | 1 year,19 days | (#44505791)

it's not billions of rounds of growth, but billions of individual mitosis events. 2^22588, to first order approximation.

No, that's actualy the maximum limit.

All in all, the estimated amount of HeLa tissue used in research until now is around 20 tons [wikipedia.org] .
With an estimated weight of a cell at 27 picograms [aps.org] , the number of cells would be in the order of 1e+18 (implying around 2^61 to 2^62 mitosis events)

Re:billions of times (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | 1 year,19 days | (#44505843)

obv the number 2^20000 is stupidly high. the point is it's billions of mitosis events, or in your estimate a thousand million billion. not billions of rounds of mitosis.

Re:billions of times (1)

c0lo (1497653) | 1 year,19 days | (#44505925)

obv the number 2^20000 is stupidly high. the point is it's billions of mitosis events, or in your estimate a billion of billions, not billions of rounds of mitosis.

yes (FTFY)
To put it in perspective, the number of atoms in the observable universe is on the order of 1e+80 [wikipedia.org] (approx, since not all the atoms will be hydrogen); which means a puny amount of approx 2^266 atoms.

Re:billions of times (1)

Muad'Dave (255648) | 1 year,18 days | (#44512327)

... implying around 2^61 to 2^62 mitosis events

I hope they used a 128 bit unsigned variable for that. If not, all their research material will disappear when it loops around 2^64. :-)

Re:billions of times (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#44505665)

Ever heard of exponential growth? I'm not sure why it's such a hard and basic cell reproduction concept to grasp for you.

Hint- one cell divides into two. Two become four. Four become eight.

And in a few weeks it's A whole fuckton.

Relatively (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | 1 year,19 days | (#44505889)

The researchers discovered that the genome of the HeLa cell line, which has been replicated millions, if not billions of times, has remained relatively stable."

The key word here is "relatively"

The fact is that mutations have arisen over the years and most scientists working with this cell line are using a variant of the original cells (and most likely a different variant than other scientists).

This cell line is the "white lab rat" of the genetics world, but like the white lab rat, it's not necessarily representative of anything except itself.

Think! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#44506029)

Scientists had never succeeded in reproducing cells in a culture until the HeLa cells, which reproduced an entire generation every 24 hours and never stopped.

Perhaps it should say: Never succeeded in reproducing HUMAN cells in a culture..

HeLa burger anyone ? (1)

Jesrad (716567) | 1 year,19 days | (#44506277)

Seems there is a great opportunity for PETA&Co. to market the first grilled burger that can be produced without any animal suffering whatsoever.

Re:HeLa burger anyone ? (1)

camperdave (969942) | 1 year,19 days | (#44507829)

Think of those poor animals, born and raised for a single goal, thier entire family history shaped and guided for one purpose, millions of dollars poured into making them the best they can be - imagine those poor animals being suddenly stripped of that purpose... No thanks. I'll stick to my bacon cheeseburgers, thank you very much. I owe them that much.

Immortal story (2)

madprof (4723) | 1 year,19 days | (#44506395)

Scientists have confirmed the release of the first immortal story on Slashdot. "The HeLa genome is so amazing," said one editor. "We just can't get enough of it."

Where's my foreskin? (-1, Offtopic)

dltaylor (7510) | 1 year,19 days | (#44506723)

Like a lot of men, I was mutilated as an infant (and I'm not even a member a the tribe of primitives who perform this mutilation for religious reasons).

What happend to MY tissue?

If you don't think it is mutilation, can I assume you also don't mind a teenage girl being drugged and having her clitoris removed?

After all, why are there ribbed condoms? To put back some of the stimulation our sex partners would have had.

The study in Africa that circumcision may reduce HIV transmission (how 'bout a condom, or two, instead?) is NOT a blanket medical justification for the mutilation of so many millions of children.

Re:Where's my foreskin? (1)

khellendros1984 (792761) | 1 year,18 days | (#44512865)

Nice [wikipedia.org] .

Compensation (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#44506727)

The Lacks family has never been compensated

How much compensation do you need to pay for taking a cell sample? Should I sue my old high school for when they took a cheek cell scraping from me in human biol class?

Re:Compensation (0)

Jeng (926980) | 1 year,19 days | (#44508559)

Did they use that cell scraping to earn millions of dollars? If so you should get a share, but if no money is being made then there is no money for you to get a share of.

Does that make sense to you?

Re:Compensation (1)

kwbauer (1677400) | 1 year,19 days | (#44511115)

Why? Was that share a part of the original agreement? Was there any stipulation made that prevented money from being made?

Re:Compensation (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#44511465)

Those are royalties, not compensation. "Compensation" is something you get for injuries.

Why should 'they' be compensated (4, Insightful)

dargaud (518470) | 1 year,19 days | (#44507015)

I give blood and I know that it can be used for research. If you have a biosample taken and it's used in medical research, it's a good thing. Why should you be compensated ? You benefit indirectly when something useful is made out of it (or somebody else's). And in particular, why should the 2nd cousin's grandnephew be compensated when, as for copyrights, they haven't contributed a THING ? Not everything is about money.

Re:Why should 'they' be compensated (1)

cdrudge (68377) | 1 year,19 days | (#44508425)

I give blood and I know that it can be used for research.

Your comparison fails right there. You know that yor blood can be used for research because it's in the forms you sign or in the literature you read stating such. If you don't consent to it being used for research, you don't have to give.

HeLa and her family never gave permission for the cells to originally be harvested. While it may not have been customary or required at that time to ask for permission, subsequent changes to medical ethics and privacy laws have changed how the original procurement is viewed.

I think many people wouldn't mind making a donation to science in order to come up with the next medical breakthrough like the polio vaccine. Would you so willingly donate, for free, say to allow Pfizer to make billions off of a improved Viagra? Or maybe use your cells to develop a medicine that can induce an abortion (presuming you'd be against such thing). How about for a more nefarious purpose of a chemical or biological weapon that attacks at a cellular level?

Compensation also doesn't have to be in the form of money. It can be in the form of thanks. Or recognition. Or conditions about how any subsequent discoveries are made available to others.

Re:Why should 'they' be compensated (1)

dargaud (518470) | 1 year,19 days | (#44508803)

Compensation also doesn't have to be in the form of money. It can be in the form of thanks. Or recognition. Or conditions about how any subsequent discoveries are made available to others.

I'm with you here. Note that for decades those cells were exchanged anonymously between labs. And it should have stayed that way to keep the greedy from coming out of the woodwork.

Re:Why should 'they' be compensated (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#44509587)

I give blood and I know that it can be used for research.

Your comparison fails right there. You know that your blood can be used for research because it's in the forms you sign or in the literature you read stating such.

On the Red Cross consent form fine print, it says something about "Nucleic Acid Testing". Most people don't know what that means. It is intentionally misleading.

If it said, "You forever agree to share your DNA for research and development", how many people would still agree?

Is that consent?

Re:Why should 'they' be compensated (1)

kwbauer (1677400) | 1 year,19 days | (#44511127)

Are you actually claiming that the biopsy and cancer treatment was done against her will? I have not read that anywhere else.

Re:Why should 'they' be compensated (1)

Notabadguy (961343) | 1 year,18 days | (#44511859)

HeLa didn't give permission for the cells to be harvested because (FTFA) it was neither required nor even customary in 1952. Laws change. Humanity is not positioned to retroactively go back to the beginning of recorded history to attempt to "correct" everything that should be different had that law existed in the first place.

Re:Why should 'they' be compensated (1)

ProzacPatient (915544) | 1 year,19 days | (#44509939)

What about if a university patents their "discovery" and then in turn licenses it out to a pharmaceutical company to make a; vaccine, drug, diagnostic process or something of similar nature and consequently between the two of them they make millions upon millions of dollars?
Unfortunately we live in a world were medicine and money are tied closely together ([sarcasm]to have it any other way would be EVIL GODLESS SOCIALIST COMMUNISM[/sarcasm]) so if some institution or two are going to make millions and millions of dollars off of your blood then it doesn't seem unfair to ask for a tiny sliver sized slice of the pie.

Compensation (1)

Digital Vomit (891734) | 1 year,19 days | (#44507403)

The Lacks family has never been compensated

I'm pretty sure they were compensated by the fact that a god damn polio vaccine was developed much sooner then it would have been otherwise using those cells.

This crazy monetization of every stupid little thing in our society has to stop. To even think that a person should have been financially compensated -- or to remark that a person wasn't -- for something like this is completely absurd and a damning indictment on our society.

And if compensation was in any way needed, how selfish are we to even consider that bettering all of humanity was not enough?

Re:Compensation (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#44508363)

The Lacks family has never been compensated

I'm pretty sure they were compensated by the fact that a god damn polio vaccine was developed much sooner then it would have been otherwise using those cells.

This crazy monetization of every stupid little thing in our society has to stop. To even think that a person should have been financially compensated -- or to remark that a person wasn't -- for something like this is completely absurd and a damning indictment on our society.

And if compensation was in any way needed, how selfish are we to even consider that bettering all of humanity was not enough?

Who made money from the vaccine?

Compensation (1)

Digital Vomit (891734) | 1 year,19 days | (#44507423)

The Lacks family has never been compensated

I'm pretty sure they were compensated by the fact that a god damn polio vaccine was developed much sooner then it would have been otherwise using those cells.

This crazy monetization of every stupid little thing in our society has to stop. To even think that a person should have been financially compensated -- or to remark that a person wasn't -- for something like this is completely absurd and a damning indictment on our society.

And if compensation was in any way needed, how selfish are we to even consider that bettering all of humanity was not enough?

Re:Compensation (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#44507703)

Compensated or not, the family should at least have been informed...
So forget about a compensation, now they can just sue the shit out of the pharmaceutical industry and get frickin rich.. plenty of evidence since her genomes are at least mentioned in all the text-books.....

Re:Compensation (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#44513317)

sue for what exactly? it was perfectly legal in 1952, and HeLa cells would obviously be grandfathered in to any law involving medical consent.

there is no legal ground. Also, why compensate the family into eternity, as Henrietta died in 1952, and any body that actually knew her other then when they were an infant would be 71 if they were 10 when she died.

this sounds more like great grand children wanting to get some cash off their great grandmother they never actually knew.

you pay to have a cell line created (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#44507913)

I work in cancer research (software). And while what the doctors/researchers did is unethical and wrong, nobody is compensated for cell lines. In fact, it costs you $1000 and a square inch of skin to have a cell line made. The only "compensation" is that you get your genome sequenced as part of the procedure. I don't mind rants about how badly physicians and researchers act. That is part of the reason they are often so handicapped by restrictive laws, they couldn't play by the rules and be decent citizens. But, making it sound like there is a lot of money or something in cell lines is just plain silly.

Why compensate the dead? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#44511049)

I know dead authors continue to receive royalties, but it is a ridiculous idea to expand that stupidity to other things

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