2023-08-17| Trending

Lawsuit Filed by Henrietta Lacks’ Estate Against Ultragenyx

by GeneOnline
Share To

Henrietta Lacks’s estate filed a lawsuit against the biopharmaceutical company Ultragenyx for a share of the profits of their products derived from HeLa cell tissues. The lawsuit was filed on August 10 in the US District Court for the District of Maryland. They argue that the pharmaceutical company has massively profited from its gene therapies, which were developed using HeLa cells.

Related Article: GeneOnline’s Weekly News Highlights: July 31-Aug 4

The plaintiff in the suit is Ron L. Lacks, Lacks’s grandson and the representative of her estate. These legal proceedings come after the settlement of a previous lawsuit against Thermo Fisher. This earlier lawsuit was filed in 2021 and was just settled earlier this month. However, the terms of their agreement weren’t disclosed. Now Henrietta Lacks’s family is suing Ultragenyx for a similar reason. They are seeking financial compensation for the profits that were generated from therapies developed with HeLa cell tissues. Ultragenyx’s focus is the development of therapies for rare genetic diseases through the use of adeno-associated virus vectors (AAV). These AAV vectors are mass-produced using the HeLa cell line. 

Ethical Concerns and Historical Injustices 

This lawsuit raises concerns over the gain of profits by Ultragenyx without compensation toward Henrietta’s estate. But more importantly, it raises ethical concerns that stem from the collection of these cells without consent and lack of recognition. Lacks was a 31-year-old African American patient with cervical cancer at Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1951, where samples of her cancerous cells were taken and then given to researchers without her consent. Since then, the self-replicating cells have become invaluable. They have contributed to many discoveries in different fields, including in vitro fertilization, the development of polio vaccines, HPV vaccines, and most recently, COVID-19 research. 

This case perfectly showcases the dehumanization of individuals in the pursuit of medical advancements. Moreover, it underlines the racial inequality in the system at the time. While the cell line and the discoveries it contributed to were highly lucrative, the Lack family did not see any profits throughout the years. Individuals have a right to control their bodies and what is done with them. This includes whether biological materials may be used for research or other purposes. The matter of consent stands as a paramount one; the lack of it amounts to exploitation and infringes on a person’s autonomy. 

Ultimately, the issue isn’t just one of fair compensation but also an acknowledgement of wrongdoing. The settlement of the first lawsuit and the filing of a new one are steps forward in acknowledging and righting the wrongs done in the past. The important thing is to acknowledge the contribution and role played by the donors of biological specimens in research and advocate for better consent regulations.

© All rights reserved. Collaborate with us:
Related Post
Astellas Withdraws Lawsuit Against IRA but Maintains Concerns
Gilead Reaches $247M Settlement in Antitrust Lawsuit
Johnson & Johnson to Pay $8.9 Billion Over 25 Years to Settle Talcum Powder Lawsuits
Revolutionary Technology Aims to Detect and Prevent Dementia and Mental Illness
Connecting Global Biotech, Thailand’s Largest Biotech Event Takes Center Stage
BIOHK2023: A place where biotechnology meets financial economics
Connecting the Dots: TCELS Leads the Way for Thailand’s Life Sciences and Healthcare Innovations
Deceptive Health Advice on TikTok Raises Concerns About Gynecologic Cancer Misinformation
Dreams and Nightmares: the Mysterious Activities of the Brain During Deep Sleep
GeneOnline’s Weekly News Highlights: Sept 11-Sept 15
BioFuture 2023
New York city,USA
Scroll to Top