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October 08, 2021

Henrietta Lacks’ estate files suit against Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc.

A complaint was filed on October 4 in the District Court of Maryland, Baltimore division by The Estate of Henrietta Lacks against Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc.  The plaintiff accuses the defendant of selling cells that doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital took from Henrietta Lacks without her knowledge or consent during a procedure in 1951 to treat her cervical cancer.  Those cells were later turned into the HeLa line, the first cell line to survive and reproduce indefinitely in lab conditions.

The lawsuit asks that Thermo Fisher repay to the Estate the net profits from commercializing the HeLa cell line, and be permanently enjoined from using HeLa cells without the Estate’s permission.