WHO honors Henrietta Lacks, woman whose cells served science – NewsNation Now


Henrietta Lacks shortly after her transfer with husband David Lacks from Clover, Virginia to Baltimore, Maryland within the early Nineteen Forties. The World Well being Group chief on Thursday honored the late Henrietta Lacks, a Black American girl who died of cervical most cancers 70 years in the past and whose cells that had been taken with out her information spurred huge scientific breakthroughs and life-saving improvements similar to for vaccines for polio and human papillomavirus, and even in analysis in regards to the coronavirus. (The Lacks Household through AP)

GENEVA (AP) — The chief of the World Well being Group on Wednesday honored the late Henrietta Lacks, an American girl whose most cancers cells had been taken with out her information in the course of the Nineteen Fifties and ended up offering the inspiration for huge scientific breakthroughs, together with analysis in regards to the coronavirus.

The popularity from WHO Director-Basic Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus got here greater than a decade after the publication of “The Immortal Lifetime of Henrietta Lacks,” Rebecca Skloot’s guide in regards to the discrimination in well being care Black People confronted, the life-saving improvements made potential by Lacks’ cells and her household’s authorized combat over their unauthorized use.

“What occurred to Henrietta was mistaken,” Tedros stated throughout a particular ceremony at WHO Geneva headquarters earlier than handing the Director-Basic’s Award for Henrietta Lacks to her 87-year-old son Lawrence Lacks as a number of of her different descendants appeared on.

Lacks died of cervical most cancers on Oct. 4, 1951 at age 31. The tissue taken from her at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore supplied the primary human cells to be efficiently cloned. Reproduced infinitely ever since, HeLa cells have develop into a cornerstone of recent drugs, together with the event of the polio vaccine, genetic mapping and even COVID-19 vaccines.

Tedros famous that Lacks lived at a time when racial discrimination was authorized in the US and that it stays widespread, even when now not authorized in most international locations.

“Henrietta Lacks was exploited. She is certainly one of many ladies of shade whose our bodies have been misused by science,” he stated. “She positioned her belief within the well being system so she might obtain remedy. However the system took one thing from her with out her information or consent.”

“The medical applied sciences that had been developed from this injustice have been used to perpetuate additional injustice as a result of they haven’t been shared equitably world wide,” Tedros added.

The HeLa cell line — a reputation derived from the primary two letters of Henrietta Lacks’ first and final names — was a scientific breakthrough. Tedros stated the cells had been “foundational” within the growth of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines, which may remove the most cancers that took her life.

As of final yr, WHO stated, lower than 25% of the world’s low-income international locations and fewer than 30% of lower-middle-income international locations had entry to HPV vaccines by means of nationwide immunization packages, in comparison with over 85% of high-income international locations. being/health-headlines/who-honors-henrietta-lacks-woman-whose-cells-served-science/ | WHO honors Henrietta Lacks, girl whose cells served science – NewsNation Now


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