After hearing oral auguments April 15, this week, the Supreme Court of the USA turned in a unanimous decision against HUMAN gene patents. When the decision came before the court and after this week’s decision, 3 Chics thought about the Henrietta Lacks cell HEIST. We’ll get to that, after I give a recap of how this augument came about
That this would even come before the SCOTUS is just MIND-NUMBING.
Here’s the 22 page PDF of the SCOTUS decision written by Justice Clarence Thomas.
In a decision that could have broad-reaching effects on the future of science and medicine, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday that:
— “A naturally occurring DNA segment is a product of nature and not patent eligible merely because it has been isolated.”
— But, synthetically created “strands of nucleotides known as composite DNA (cDNA)” are “patent eligible” because they do not occur naturally.
Mrs. Lacks was a wife, mother of five, native of rural southern Virginia, resident of Turner Station in Dundalk, Maryland—Henrietta went to Johns Hopkins complaining of vaginal spotting. She was diagnosed with cervical cancer which quickly consumed her body despite of radiation treatment. Henrietta life was cut short on October 4, 1951. Not all of Henrietta Lacks died that day. She unknowingly left behind a piece of her that still lives today—it’s called the HeLa cell. Her cells were taken and used for medical research without her consent.
More here: Who is Henrietta Lacks?
Over the years, Henrietta’s cells have become an immortal source of cells for research that has found breakthroughs in treatment and diagnosis of disease, assisted in human gene mapping and in-vitro fertilization research and altered the course of medicine as it is today. Known as HeLa cells, they helped develop the polio vaccine and have increased medical professionals’ understanding of cancer, AIDS and numerous viruses. HeLa is the most widely used cell line in the world used for biomedical research.
Rikyrah: Think about what Ms. Lacks has given to the world. She died penniless, and her family is poor and without insurance. All that science has benefitted from her cells, and her family has received nothing from it. They didn’t even know that her cells had been so important with regards to science.
Everybody else has profited. The doctors studying her cells had their careers advanced because of Ms. Lacks. The institutions employing these doctors more than likely received grants and funding based upon Ms. Lacks cells. Whatever medical procedures/materials created because of Ms. Lacks’ cells, they’ve made a profit from, and more than likely, have PATENTS for – think on that…THEY have patents, while Ms. Lacks’ family has nothing.
So, everybody gets paid off this poor, Black woman….but not the poor Black woman or her family.
And folks wonder why Black folks are inherently suspicious of the medical field.
Ametia: Yes; and what else is the medical field and science doing with our tissues, cells, organs, without our KNOWLEDGE & PERMISSION?
*GENE PATENTS & DNA TESTING IS A CIVIL RIGHTS ISSUE. If you think about the use of DNA testing in criminal cases, who gets swabbed more than any other ethnic group? BLACK MEN.
SG2: Scheming thieves! Making billions and billions of dollars off a poor black woman and the GALL to patent their thievery. It’s a way of life for them to prey upon others. Ask Native Americans & African Americans?
Here we have the family of Henrietta Lacks without insurance and companies are raking in mega profits off something that belongs to her. Just evil and wicked. I want to know where is the conscience of these people? We’re all born with a conscience instilled within us to judge between right & wrong. Where is the damn conscience? How are you going to patent someone else’ cells? It’s beyond disbelief.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is on HBO right now! repeat
AND THE TRUTH SHALL SET US FREE.
The first thing I thought about at the announcement of the decision was Mrs. Lacks. The second was how many drug companies that have been seeking to patent all the botanical life in the rain forest – sources of drugs that can cure all manner of diseases – were just handed a huge defeat to their greed. Human and all naturally occurring tissues are now officially not available for exploitation. Damned well past time that someone realized you cannot patent what you did not make. I hope there can be some major legal remedy for Mrs. Lacks’ family. She and they were not and are not petri dishes to be disposed of as irrelevant.
Now we have to use major public policy to limit the uses and abuses of lab created genes. Society can curtail this danger to our world every bit as well as we have limited DDT, nuclear bombs, and other scientific ‘advancements’ that we realized had deleterious impacts on society. No free play for that which may do us harm. Enough amoral science, thanks.
Hi Churchlady. it’s all about greed and profit. Use PEOPLE, Love Money!
The folks who are anti-science-*looking@YOUGOP* are the main ones who support CORPORATIONS who use scientists in their assault on our fundamental rights as humans for profit.
Thanks for this post. The case was very important, because I was dumbstruck when I first read about Mrs. Lacks. That this woman was used as a lab rat and everyone else profited off of her just made my blood boil. To think that these mofo companies would take someone’s DNA and think their asses COULD PATENT THEM AND NOT PAY THE FOLKS WHOSE DNA THEY WERE USING was just inconceivable to me.