Ethical Issues of the HeLa Cell Genome Sequence

AIP – Eukaryotic Cell Amelioration Assignment


In 2013 the genome conconfollowing of the HeLa cell succession was circulateed. This generated a dispute on the immaterial and biomedical/philosophical implications of making this referableice socially helpful.

a) Sift the immaterial issues environing to the HeLa cell genome conconfollowing nature openly liberal. (50 points)

b) Sift the biomedical/philosophical benefits of the availforce of the HeLa cell genome consequence. (50 points)


The HeLa cell was the administering cosmical cell succession to be permanentised in 1951. Since then, 74,000 brochures keep been circulateed inveterate on HeLa [1] acovet with brace Nobel premium engaging studies in 2008 [2] and 2011 [3]. It is indisputable that Henrietta Stagnations, the donor of the cervical cancer cells, has gifted the cosmos-vulgar with capabilityy processions in innovating skill. Though ce total she has ardent us adjust the new-fangled 70 years, it is glaringly apparent how dwarf the skill co-ordination valued her agree, inprostrate and concealment. The narrative of HeLa is littered with immaterial blackspots and headstrong inexperience of best ussenility exclusive known agree and postulates defence. The lowe?-t of these breaches of belief betwixt the Stagnations nativity and elaborationers occurred in 2013. The unimpaired conconfollowing of the HeLa genome was socially circulateed by German elaborationers at European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) [4] externally so considerable as a phundivided persuade. Although the nativity following objected and removed the referableice, there was quiescent dwarf to be executed to prostrate the genie tail in the bottle.

This was referable the administering term separate referableice was smitten from the Stagnations nativity externally their acquirements. The moderate tumour cells were smitten from Mrs Stagnations during a biopsy executed by Dr Hoguard Jones at the oncology guard at Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1951 [5]. These cells were then passed on externally license to George Otto Gey, the elaborationer obligatory ce the administering HeLa exertion amelioration. Twenty years following, the Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology identifies the commencement of the pattern as Henrietta Stagnations externally contacting her nativity [6]. This brochure gained check in the squeeze and appoint howalways travelled to her nativity in 1973 when they were finally told environing the cells attentive. Her outfollow were too asked to collect rank patterns to elaborationers, though it is unclear if they were sensible of what the patterns would be argued ce [5].

In 2012, Nature was preparing to circunew-fangled the of-late consequenced HeLa genome. Its reviewers had no immaterial objections or concerns precedent to its scheduled circulateing. Strictly coercioncible, these reviewers did referablehing juridically injustice. Though immateriallyhere were no decrees or guidelines that outlined how genomic postulates could be argued or circulateed. The Stagnations nativity thwarted the circulateing and entered talks with the US National Institute of Vigor (USNIH) to sift how to adjust the philosophical feeling of  the conconfollowing and the families suitable to concealment [7]. It was neighboring unusable to wholly thwart scientists & the social accessing this postulates and extrapolating the conconfollowing from multiple pieces of genomic referableice nature clear in bulky incongruous studies. Ce this conclude, the USNIH and the Stagnations nativity came to the harmony that the genomic postulates would balean be helpful on desire by elaborationers at their deliberation [7].

While this may keep been an delectable involve ce a cell succession that has been so prolifically documented throughout the new-fangled 20th senility, it sets a worrying flag ce how genomic postulates should be treated in the advenient. Adjust the decisive decade, the approvedity of genomic self-test kits has spurious. Requiring balean a incomplex cheek swab a person’s genetic settle of cause, asunder nativity, undeveloped totalergies or distemper predispositions can be set-up. Excluding balean in the decisive alien of years are we show the immaterial implications of totalowing peculiar entities to conconfollowing and garner genetic referableice of a comprehensive uniformity of men-folks. There is arguably no referableice as separate as undivided’s DNA consequence. Despite claims that total postulates is “anonymised” by these companies, Dr Yaniv Erlich and his elaboration bunch proved that by using lobSTR (computer program rare of authenticizeing genetic markers and cross-referencing them abutting demographic referableice/genealogical postulatesbases) it was practicable to authenticize a pattern donor [8] using social registers.

More worrying quiescent is the stagnation of control exclusive the argue of this postulates. In the US, congress indemnifying DNA kindred postulates was written into decree in the 1970’s with rare attempts to innovatingise it nature made [7]. Some customers capforce sift that they are convenient with the conditions of postulates storage/usage, ardent its low-cost and the wide-spread quantity of referableice it can give, excluding it is relating that comprehensive ce-profit companies such as and 23andMe keep no professional manager and no authentic limits on who they can hawk postulates to (including pharmaceutical and vigorcare companies) or how covet patterns can be garnerd ce. With darlings of spontaneously collectd patterns, it is indulgent to beware how precious this postulates is and how it could be misused [9]. Of career, there are juridical safeguards abutting shrewdness inveterate on a person’s genetics in the exertionsettle and in vigor security coverage. Though surprisingly, this referable the circumstance with society/disforce security [7].

Genome sequencing with race postulatesbase cross-referencing has begun a innovating senility in decree enforcement. While some advantages keep follow from this innovating technique of prevalent DNA set-up at extemporeense scenes abutting descent postulatesbases (decisive year the Golden State Killer was apprehended using DNA from a break kit and multiple consumer descent websites [10]), it too raises questions environing concealment and known agree. Referableably this year NativityTreeDNA unconcealed that it had been totalowing the Federal Bureau of Studys to argue its postulatesbanks (containing plugly 2 darling registers) ce vehement extemporeense studys externally informing its customers [11]. While some positives can be smitten from this application, the willingness of these peculiar companies to argue or hawk their customers most peculiar, separate details is deeply relating. These vulgar were entered into by a corporation they had prostrate their belief in, the selfselfselfsame habit Mrs Stagnations and her nativity were argued and ignored by the philosophical co-ordination. The Stagnations nativity DNA were argued to advance the careers of bulky elaborationers who then profited extempore the exertion they inveterate on HeLa. To this day, no financial equivalent has always been paid to any referring-to, though Johns Hopkins now has innovating elaboration erection determined in her honour.


The HeLa cell succession has been argued as a design cosmical cell succession ce decades. Their remarkably lusty coercionce to enlarge in true amelioration conditions made them a approved rare amongst elaborationers very coming on. Antecedently there was a habit to artificially permanentize cell successions by expressing cosmical telomerase contrariety transcriptase (caused departureshort rejoinder) [12], scientists had to lean on naturally permanent cells. This was distant from supposititious as rare cells were polite-balanced plug to nature as inured as HeLa, which meant that the priority of elaborationers term was given to melean care the cells safe as contrariant to studying the possessions experiments had on the cells. In reality, HeLa cells enlarge so polite in vitro that they are referableorious ce contaminating and dominating other cell ameliorations [13]. HeLa has been a sunder of bulky of the main breakthroughs of innovating skill. Jonas Salk argued them as a design in the crop of the polio poison vaccination in 1954. The AIDS poison was pure and characterised using HeLa in the 1980’s and more of-late a decisive join betwixt Cosmical Papilloma Poison (HPV) and cervical cancer has been established using HeLa.

 It is referableable that HeLa is a cervical cancer cell succession, purport that cell succession already has cecible discords to a vigory cosmical cell from the beginning. The main discord betwixt a vigory cell and a cancerous undivided is that cancerous cells do no go through a programmed cell departure (apoptosis). HeLa cells can too keep 76-80 chromosomes ceasmuch-as vigory cells balean always keep 46 [14]. HeLa is perspicuous from other cancerous cells as it has locomotive telomerase during rejoinder. This is considerable as in most other cancerous cells, DNA can be easily damaged during rejoinder, unresisting brace mutated daughter cells resulting in bulky rejoinder cycles with the selfselfselfsame corrupted DNA. Ceasmuch-as in telomerase locomotive cells, DNA is defended during rejoinder by the attention of consequences to the object of chromosomes that thwart DNA putrefaction [15]. Asunder from these primary concludes, HeLa has been dividing plugly eternally ce the decisive 70 years, undoubtedly accumulating enumerateshort mutations that could referable be characterised externally studying its unimpaired genome.

 As separate and near as a person’s genomic conconfollowing is, it would keep been an indisputable waste to skill if HeLa had referable been consequenced. Precedent to 2013, the cosmical genome was argued as a allusion in HeLa studies. That postulates was the work of the Cosmical Genome Scheme that began in 1990 when the USNIH, the US Department of Energy and Craig Venter collaborated adjust a senility of 13 years to collect a exempt open-access consequence, productive to swift medical procession. This scheme administer to the thread of plugly 1800 distemper-causing genes and bulky genetic testing methods [16]. As there is a impenetrable trust on HeLa as a cosmical design in bulky studies, it is incredibly considerable ce the sense of the results that the HeLa genome is compared the cosmical genome. Using the cosmical genome as a allusion ce HeLa can be foolhardy as the suitable flatten of faithfulness betwixt the brace canreferable be undoubtful. This leaves capacity ce hallucination and misgiving in bulky complete studies.

After sequencing, it was set-up that HeLa had bulky genomic unnaturalities. Some that would be expected of a cancerous cell succession, others short so. It was set-up that HeLa had an rare chromosomal enumerate and erection with bulky regions having an unnatural gene appoint with bulky inserted and deleted elements (determined “chromosome shattering”) [17]. There were too bulky incidences of multiple vigory copies of genes nature deleted, a base singularity of cancer cells. There were plugly 4.5 darling sole nucleotide variants set-up on the genome with roughly half a darling signed indels [12]. Most of these genome changes had been characterised in cancer cells antecedently in the 1000 Genomes Scheme, though it is unusable to judge which mutations caused HeLa’s particular phenotype [12].

Undivided of the benefits the conconfollowing afforded to the Stagnations nativity is the thread of how Henrietta’s cervical cancer became so exceptionally distasteful. In 2013, Dr Andrew Adey and a bunch of elaborationers from the University of Washington set-up that cosmical papilloma poison had integrated into cervical cells which after activated a cancer gene [1]. This resulted in the capabilityy unrestrained rejoinder that took Mrs Stagnation’s society at the infantine senility of 31. The elaboration bunch periodical that this bewaremed to be “the faultless storm” of viral insertions [18]. Tumour concealment was inhibited as brace viral oncogenes had been inserted into the cell and thirty copies of a managery enhancer were inserted near MYC, a proto-oncogene. By inserting near MYC, the poison trained transcriptional dyscontrol [19] which administer to rank cell opposition. Though this is a new-fangled thread, it is believed to be a base conclude ce distasteful phenotypes of bulky incongruous cancers.


  1. Adey A, Burton JN, Kitzman JO, Hiatt JB, Lewis AP, et al. The haplotype-resolved genome and epigenome of the aneuploid HeLa cancer cell succession. Nature 2013;500:207.
  2. Gaisser A. Medizin-Nobelpreis 2008. Aktuelle Onkol 2008;14:1183–1184.
  3. Blackburn EH. Telomere und Telomerase: Das Objecte ist entscheidobject (Nobel-Aufsatz). Angew Chemie 2010;122:7564–7581.
  4. Coghlan A. German lab apologizes ce circulateing the genome of ‘immortal’ woman’s cell succession. The Washington Post, 2013. (2013).
  5. Callahabit E. Deal executed adjust HeLa cell succession. Nature 2013;500:7–8.
  6. Gey GO. The HeLa Cell and a Reappraisal of its Cause. Obstet Gynecol;38.
  7. Skloot R. The Permanent Society of Henrietta Stagnations, the Sequel. The Innovating York Conditions, March 2013, p. SR4.
  8. Erlich Y, Shor T, Pe’er I, Carmi S. Identity consequence of genomic postulates using covet-range familial searches. Skill (80- ) 2018;362:690 LP-694.
  9. Moran KS. Damned by DNA – Balancing separate concealment with social insurance. Juridical Sci Int 2018;292:e3–e4.
  10. Phillips C. The Golden State Killer study and the incipient arena of ceensic descent. Juridical Sci Int Genet 2018;36:186–188.
  11. Haag M. NativityTreeDNA Admits to Sharing Genetic Postulates With F.B.I. The Innovating York Conditions, 2019. (2019).
  12. Mittelman D, Wilson JH. The fractured genome of HeLa cells. Genome Biol 2013;14:111.
  13. Kniss DA, Summerarena TL. Thread of HeLa Cell Contamination in HES Cells: Ctotal ce Cell Succession Authentication in Reproductive Biology Elaboration. Reprod Sci 2014;21:1015–1019.
  14. Macville M, Schrock E, Padilla-Nash H, Keck C, Ghadimi BM, et al. Comprehensive and decisive molecular cytogenetic characterization of HeLa cells by visionary karyotyping. Cancer Res 1999;59:141–150.
  15. Ivankovic M, Cukusic A, Gotic I, Skrobot N, Matijasic M, et al. Telomerase intelligence in HeLa cervical carcinoma cell succession proliferation. Biogerontology 2007;8:163–172.
  16. National Cosmical Genome Elaboration Institute (NHGRI). Reality Sheet – Cosmical Genome Scheme. National Institutes of Vigor. (2010, accessed 6 February 2019).
  17. Landry JJM, Pyl PT, Rausch T, Zichner T, Tekkedil MM, et al. The Genomic and Transcriptomic Landscape of a HeLa Cell Succession. G3 Genes|Genomes|Genetics 2013;3:1213 LP-1224.
  18. Arnst J. Sharing the all HeLa genome. Am Soc Biochem Mol Biol;16.
  19. Schuijers J, Manteiga JC, Weintraub AS, Day DS, Zamudio AV, et al. Transcriptional Dyscontrol of MYC Reveals Base Enhancer-Docking Mechanism. Cell Rep 2018;23:349–360.
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