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Long-awaited international ethical guidelines for biobank researchers
Date:9/22/2007

Many sets of guidelines and regulations, and great differences among countries. This is what medical researchers encounter if they want to use previously collected samples from biobanks in their research. For one thing, this makes it extremely complicated to carry out major international studies. In the latest issue of Nature Biotechnology, Swedish ethics researchers at the Center for Bioethics (CBE), together with leading biobank researchers, put forward a pioneering solution: a set of practical ethical guidelines for biobank research.

Biobanks consist of systematically gathered biological samples and are valuable for both research and medical treatments. When tissues samples are linked to good clinical data, they become indispensable to medical science. At the same time a number of ethical issues are raised regarding the use of these samples. For instance, can we be certain that information about an individual will not reach the wrong people, such as employers and insurance companies"

It is crucial to be able to weigh the conflicting interests, so that the regulation of biobank research doesnt become a patient security problem in diagnosis, care, and treatment, says Mats G. Hansson, professor of biomedical ethics and director of the Center for Bioethics at the Karolinska Institute and Uppsala University in Sweden.

Today there is a plethora of extremely comprehensive guidelines and regulations in different countries, which entails major complications for biobank scientists, especially in international collaborative projects. In other words, there is a crying need for a simple model providing a comprehensive ethical balancing of medical needs and personal integrity concerns.

The article in Nature Biotechnology presents for the first time an ethical framework for research using previously collected tissue samples, guidelines that can be used as a practical and direct instrument for researchers. Together with an article
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Contact: Mats G. Hansson
mats.hansson@bioethics.uu.se
46-018-611-3576
Uppsala University
Source:Eurekalert

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