Ethical Principles Essay

1084 words - 5 pages

Henrietta Lacks, a woman that died of cervical cancer in 1951, single handedly changed the field of science. Not long before she passed away, a doctor took a sample of her cancer cells, the cells from her cervix were later on named HeLa cells, and these cells helped pave the way to numerous experiments and research all over the world. Even though HeLa brought along many achievements with its discovery, it also brought disappointments to some researchers, and pain for her family. You see, she nor her family consented to her cells being sampled, or the amounts of experiments and research that occurred after. Her family was never aware that such actions even took place. Even so, on February ...view middle of the document...

This memorable moment would start a chain reaction of not only achievements but despair as well.
Henrietta Lacks’ cervical tissue was taken without her consent, with no intentions of using them to benefit her in any way. In my opinion, all that were involved were in violation of the ethics code of conduct. Mary Kubicek and Dr. Gey, as well as the Dr. that allowed them to collect the sample were all in violation, simply because Henrietta Lacks did not consent to her tissue being used for cancer research. While Henrietta soon passed away from an aggressive form of cervical cancer, all others involved benefited from her cells. Her family knew nothing about the research, they knew nothing about her cells being collected, and it was not until 1976, when geneticists went looking for them (Films for the Humanities & Sciences, 2012); believing that the cure to cancer was embedded in DNA.
Dr. Gey, along with many other researchers, had been trying to grow human cells in vitro for many years. That was until Henrietta Lacks walked in to John Hopkins Hospital. Once HeLa cells were discovered, it made it possible for just about anything to be tested on them. As the HeLa cells continued to grow, so did the opportunity for many more experiments. During this time, the polio epidemic broke out; HeLa cells made it possible for the discovery of the polio vaccine.
Leonard Hayflick, a Cell Biologist, had other plans in mind for cell line development. He established a cell line from the amnion of his daughter on the day she was born. Several hours after he collected the sample, he noticed that the cells began to become cancerous (Films for the Humanities & Sciences, 2012). This process is known as Spontaneous Transformation; the transformation of a cell that occurs without purposefully adding a transforming agent ("Biology Online", n.d). A Doctor, by the name of Stanley Gartler, then realized each cell had the same form of enzymes, ones in which they believed only came from people of color. That’s when Dr. Garter shocked everyone, he suggested that each cell line that researchers thought they were studying, was actually those of Henrietta Lacks (Films for the Humanities & Sciences, 2012). There is one more factor of...

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