Judge Considers Motion To Dismiss Lawsuit Against Biotech Company By Henrietta Lacks’ Family – CBS Baltimore

BALTIMORE (WJZ) – A federal judge on Tuesday heard a motion to dismiss a lawsuit against a biotech company owned by the Henrietta Lacks family. The judge’s deliberation can take weeks.

Henrietta Lacks was a Baltimore woman whose cells had been removed without her permission decades ago and they are still used for medical research today.

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“These cells were taken from her body like she was a lab rat, an experiment and no one even contacted the family to let them know anything had happened.

The Lacks family is represented by nationally known civil rights attorneys Ben Crump and Chris Seeger, who filed a lawsuit against Thermo Fisher Scientific last October. The lawsuit accuses the company of knowingly mass-producing and selling tissue taken from Lacks by Johns Hopkins physicians.

The shortage went to Johns Hopkins in 1951 to treat cervical cancer. When her cancer cells were biopsied, doctors realized that instead of dying, her cells were doubling every 20 to 24 hours.

They are nicknamed “HeLa cells” and play an important role in medical advances. Although without permission from Lacks or her family, cells were obtained and are still being used for research in many things, including vaccines and cosmetics. HeLa cells are also used to develop polio vaccines, along with treatments for cancer, HIV/AIDS, leukemia and Parkinson’s disease. The young master died of cancer in 1951.

Attorneys for the family argue that the companies illegally got rich from the boxes taken without permission and that those companies continue to make billions today without compensation to the family. family.

“The theory of illicit enrichment allows their family to have a court date – that Henrietta lives as long as her cells are alive,” said Attorney Ben Crump, adding that Lacks wouldn’t have been treated like that if she were a white woman.

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“What if she was actually treated like a white woman and they actually got her consent and then her estate would say you can’t use this intellectual property, her genetic makeup without her permission and then have to compensate us,” Crump continued. “Just like a descendant of Henry Ford, a descendant of Bill Gates.”

In court on Tuesday, lawyers for Thermo Fisher Scientific argued that there is no law prohibiting them from regenerating the cells and that the family may not be able to continue the case because it is too long.

The judge said it would take some time for her to review the case. Outside of court, Thermo Fisher Scientific’s attorneys said they had no comment.

Lawyers for Thieu’s family say this is just the beginning.

“Do you have any reason to believe that other pharmaceutical companies are also watching what is happening here?” WJZ’s Ava-joye Burnett asked.

Seeger replied: “They are in the audience, their defense attorneys are watching.

Seeger also suggested that more companies could be sued.

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“They’ve been stealing money from this family for 60 years,” Seeger said.

https://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2022/05/17/judge-considers-motion-to-dismiss-lawsuit-against-biotech-company-by-henrietta-lacks-family/ Judge Considers Motion To Dismiss Lawsuit Against Biotech Company By Henrietta Lacks’ Family – CBS Baltimore

Alley Einstein

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