Also, what are the arguments for not saying transmissible cancers are parasites?
Transposons or "jumping genes"  are segments of DNA code which can move around within a genome by themselves (autonomously).
Presumably though, over time, enough of these moving in the right place - in combination with some other mutation - might confer some benefit that leads to speciation .
edit: length / clarity
 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transposable_element
 - https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/wandering-fly-gen...
At any rate, cell differentiation/compartmentation within a tumor has been observed, so things do get blurry indeed. It's also worth noting that there isn't a single definition of 'species' and it's all just semantics that changes depending on your field. (The traditional 'inter-fertile over two generations' you learn in high school is helpful but doesn't stand up to many observations.) Ultimately a species is what biologists say is a species.
> Henrietta Lacks (born Loretta Pleasant; August 1, 1920 – October 4, 1951) was an African-American woman whose cancer cells are the source of the HeLa cell line, the first immortalized human cell line and one of the most important cell lines in medical research. An immortalized cell line reproduces indefinitely under specific conditions, and the HeLa cell line continues to be a source of invaluable medical data to the present day.
Neither her nor her family were ever compensated for the 'use' of her biological material nor was consent ever given for a donation. The medical-research community has profited incalculably from this.
She would have been treated better if she had recorded a song.
My point is that you need to defend your assumption that maintaining cultures of tissue samples requires consent and compensation. Concepts like intellectual property (copyright / patent / trademark) don't apply to things like tissue samples.
In my opinion using her treatment samples was grey to permissible (they already took them with permission and for a purpose serving her and it wasn't established as owned) but the deliberate morgue harvesting without permission crossed the line.
Just keeping the samples could be like keeping say a record size tumor a surgeon removed in a formaldehyde barrel is creepy but precedented and doesn't do harm. Doing it to a patient's body without permission or another valid overriding reason (say epidemiology or diagnosis to living patients infected with the same disease) is just descreation.
I'll tone down the analogy so we don't go into abject examples that would still perfectly fit your point. You probably don't create that much value from your house, land, car, etc. But companies still aren't entitled to take them from you simply because they can make more money from them. If you are not willing to give them up for free you're contradicting your own point.
There's the mistaken impression that this is a 0 sum game and for companies to win, Henrietta Lacks and her family have to lose, it's expected of them. Or that the profits have to be exclusively on the company's side.
This wasn't accidentally obtained. They stole a winning lottery ticket and didn't share the winnings.
There are 2 aspects here. One is about ethics and privacy, someone took and continues to use these cells with no restrictions, like saying it's OK to have a slave because it was legal when you bought it. What other things are perfectly normal to take because you have more?
The second is financial, you're expected to pay through your nose for using a 5s song snippet but use a piece of someone's body should only benefit the the ones who took it. Blood donors get paid and that's nowhere near as unique as this.
I've seen people rationalize the Tuskegee syphilis experiment (people get syphilis every day anyway). Were you in her place you'd expect more of everything. More rights, more respect, more privacy, more money, etc. And I don't see anyone trying to fix past mistakes.
Edit: it's been proposed as Helacyton gartleri, but not widely accepted because "Van Valen's argument of HeLa being a new species does not fulfill the criteria for an independent unicellular asexually reproducing species because of the notorious instability of HeLa's karyotype and their lack of a strict ancestral-descendant lineage."
According to Wikipedia, the cells have a tendency to contaminate pretty much any suitable environment around and proliferate easily. Seems almost more like a fungal or bacterial growth than what we’d typically consider cancer.
Wouldn't that (theoretically) be be easier for cancer cells? The article doesn't state if these muscles came from "new" genes that were evolved for this or if they reactivated pre-existing genes from more complex ancestors, but the latter seems like a significantly smaller evolutionary leap than the former, and cancer cells would be in the unique position to be able to do that.
But I agree that many have just too complex life cycles to be a cancer. The idea of a microbe using a TASER like weapon is also really bizarre if we think about it. They are also too numerous to appear just by chance (again and again), and then evolve to attack seaworms, and later evolve again to invade fishe's hearts, muscles, gallbladders, gills... too much stable complexity for a cancer.
Parasitic transmissible cancers are very rare, because they generally lack the ability to adapt genetically, and get wiped out after a few thousand years, when all their accumulated mutations start to impact their survivability.