Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

Lacks Family Hires Attorney

The family of Henrietta Lacks has hired a civil rights attorney who is considering seeking compensation from pharmaceutical companies that have used her cancer cells, the Baltimore Sun reports.

A Johns Hopkins Hospital doctor collected a sample of cancer cells from Lacks about 70 years ago without her knowledge or permission, the Sun adds, noting that the resulting HeLa cells have become widely used in biomedical research.

It reports that members of the Lacks family have now hired civil right attorney Ben Crump, who says the use of the cells without her knowledge or consent is an example of how Black people in the US have been exploited medically. "Her family is here today to start the journey to right that wrong," Crump said during a news briefing, according to CBS Baltimore.

Crump and trial lawyer Christopher Seeger add that they are investigating about 100 pharmaceutical companies that may have used HeLa cells in product development and have not ruled out bringing a case against Johns Hopkins Hospital, the Sun says.

"This is the greatest example of corporate theft I've seen in my career, and I've been pursuing pharmaceutical companies for 25 years," Seeger said, according to the Sun. "They took something from this family and have offered them nothing, yet they've gone out and made millions of dollars."

The Scan

Positive Framing of Genetic Studies Can Spark Mistrust Among Underrepresented Groups

Researchers in Human Genetics and Genomics Advances report that how researchers describe genomic studies may alienate potential participants.

Small Study of Gene Editing to Treat Sickle Cell Disease

In a Novartis-sponsored study in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that a CRISPR-Cas9-based treatment targeting promoters of genes encoding fetal hemoglobin could reduce disease symptoms.

Gut Microbiome Changes Appear in Infants Before They Develop Eczema, Study Finds

Researchers report in mSystems that infants experienced an enrichment in Clostridium sensu stricto 1 and Finegoldia and a depletion of Bacteroides before developing eczema.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia Treatment Specificity Enhanced With Stem Cell Editing

A study in Nature suggests epitope editing in donor stem cells prior to bone marrow transplants can stave off toxicity when targeting acute myeloid leukemia with immunotherapy.