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1.  Cancer patient perceptions on the ethical and legal issues related to biobanking 
Background
Understanding the perception of patients on research ethics issues related to biobanking is important to enrich ethical discourse and help inform policy.
Methods
We examined the views of leukemia patients undergoing treatment in clinics located in the Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. An initial written survey was provided to 100 patients (64.1% response rate) followed by a follow-up survey (62.5% response rate) covering the topics of informed consent, withdrawal, anonymity, incidental findings and the return of results, ownership, and trust.
Results
The majority (59.6%) preferred one-time consent, 30.3% desired a tiered consent approach that provides multiple options, and 10.1% preferred re-consent for future research. When asked different questions on re-consent, most (58%) reported that re-consent was a waste of time and money, but 51.7% indicated they would feel respected and involved if asked to re-consent. The majority of patients (62.2%) stated they had a right to withdraw their consent, but many changed their mind in the follow-up survey explaining that they should not have the right to withdraw consent. Nearly all of the patients (98%) desired being informed of incidental health findings and explained that the information was useful. Of these, 67.3% of patients preferred that researchers inform them and their doctors of the results. The majority of patients (62.2%) stated that the research institution owns the samples whereas 19.4% stated that the participants owned their samples. Patients had a great deal of trust in doctors, hospitals and government-funded university researchers, moderate levels of trust for provincial governments and industry-funded university researchers, and low levels of trust towards industry and insurance companies.
Conclusions
Many cancer patients surveyed preferred a one-time consent although others desired some form of control. The majority of participants wanted a continuing right to withdraw consent and nearly all wanted to be informed of incidental findings related to their health. Patients had a great deal of trust in their medical professionals and publically-funded researchers as opposed to profit-based industries and insurance companies.
doi:10.1186/1755-8794-6-8
PMCID: PMC3599691  PMID: 23497701
Biobank; Tissue repository; Cancer patient perspectives; Consent; Withdrawal; Anonymity; Incidental findings; Return of results; Ownership; Trust
2.  Umbilical cord blood banking: from personal donation to international public registries to global bioeconomy 
The procedures for collecting voluntarily and freely donated umbilical cord blood (UCB) units and processing them for use in transplants are extremely costly, and the capital flows thus generated form part of an increasingly pervasive global bioeconomy. To place the issue in perspective, this article first examines the different types of UCB biobank, the organization of international registries of public UCB biobanks, the optimal size of national inventories, and the possibility of obtaining commercial products from donated units. The fees generally applied for the acquisition of UCB units for transplantation are then discussed, and some considerations are proposed regarding the social and ethical implications raised by the international network for the importation and exportation of UCB, with a particular emphasis on the globalized bioeconomy of UCB and its commerciality or lack thereof.
doi:10.2147/JBM.S64090
PMCID: PMC4069132  PMID: 24971040
cord blood banking; economy; ethics; stem cells; transplantation
3.  Biobanking research on oncological residual material: a framework between the rights of the individual and the interest of society 
BMC Medical Ethics  2013;14:17.
Background
The tissue biobanking of specific biological residual materials, which constitutes a useful resource for medical/scientific research, has raised some ethical issues, such as the need to define which kind of consent is applicable for biological residual materials biobanks.
Discussion
Biobank research cannot be conducted without considering arguments for obtaining the donors’ consent: in this paper we discuss to what extent consent in biobank research on oncological residual materials has to be required, and what type of consent would be appropriate in this context, considering the ethical principles of donation, solidarity, protection of the donors’ rights and the requirements of scientific progress. Regarding the relationship between informed consent and tissue collection, storage and research, we have focused on two possible choices related to the treatment of data and samples in the biobank: irreversible and reversible anonymization of the samples, distinguishing between biobank research on residual materials for which obtaining consent is necessary and justified, and biobank research for which it is not. The procedures involve different approaches and possible solutions that we will seek to define. The consent for clinical research reported in the Helsinki Declaration regards research involving human beings and for this reason it is subordinate to specific and detailed information on the research projects.
Summary
An important ethical aspect in regard to the role of Biobanks is encouraging sample donation. For donors, seeing human samples being kept rather than discarded, and seeing them become useful for research highlights the importance of the human body and improves the attitude towards donation. This process might also facilitate the giving of informed consent more willingly, and with greater trust.
doi:10.1186/1472-6939-14-17
PMCID: PMC3616854  PMID: 23547565
Biobanks; Consent; Oncological residual material; Cancer biobanks; Residual materials biobanks; Informed consent; Ethics; Research; Solidarity
4.  Ethical issues relating to the banking of umbilical cord blood in Mexico 
BMC Medical Ethics  2009;10:12.
Background
Umbilical cord banks are a central component, as umbilical cord tissue providers, in both medical treatment and scientific research with stem cells. But, whereas the creation of umbilical cord banks is seen as successful practice, it is perceived as a risky style of play by others. This article examines and discusses the ethical, medical and legal considerations that arise from the operation of umbilical cord banks in Mexico.
Discussion
A number of experts have stated that the use of umbilical cord goes beyond the mere utilization of human tissues for the purpose of treatment. This tissue is also used in research studies: genetic studies, studies to evaluate the effectiveness of new antibiotics, studies to identify new proteins, etc. Meanwhile, others claim that the law and other norms for the functioning of cord banks are not consistent and are poorly defined. Some of these critics point out that the confidentiality of donor information is handled differently in different places. The fact that private cord banks offer their services as "biological insurance" in order to obtain informed consent by promising the parents that the tissue that will be stored insures the health of their child in the future raises the issue of whether the consent is freely given or given under coercion. Another consideration that must be made in relation to privately owned cord banks has to do with the ownership of the stored umbilical cord.
Summary
Conflicts between moral principles and economic interests (non-moral principles) cause dilemmas in the clinical practice of umbilical cord blood storage and use especially in privately owned banks. This article presents a reflection and some of the guidelines that must be followed by umbilical cord banks in order to deal with these conflicts. This reflection is based on the fundamental notions of ethics and public health and seeks to be a contribution towards the improvement of umbilical cord banks' performance.
doi:10.1186/1472-6939-10-12
PMCID: PMC2745420  PMID: 19678958
5.  Informed consent for cord blood donation. A theoretical and empirical study 
Blood Transfusion  2011;9(3):292-300.
Background and objectives
Umbilical cord blood (CB) banking and therapeutic use raise several ethical issues: medical indications, legal framework, public versus private biobanks, autologous versus allogeneic use, ownership, commercialisation, quality assurance and many others. Surrogate informed consent is one of the most notable controversial ethical issues. The aim of this study was to analyse and compare informed consent forms for CB collection, storage and use in the 18 accredited biobanks of the Italian Network.
Material and methods
The first part of the article gives a brief overview of the scientific framework, the comparison of allogeneic and autologous use and Italian regulations. In the second part the contents of the consent forms from the 18 Italian biobanks are compared with the “NetCord-FACT International Standards for Cord Blood Collection, Banking, and Release for Administration”.
Results
Most of the Italian consent forms differ significantly from the NetCord-FACT Standards, with regards both to formal and substantial aspects.
Conclusion
Italian forms for CB collection, storage and use need standardisation to meet international criteria.
doi:10.2450/2010.0083-10
PMCID: PMC3136597  PMID: 21251456
cord blood; informed consent; biological specimens banks; transplantation
6.  Public’s attitudes on participation in a biobank for research: an Italian survey 
BMC Medical Ethics  2014;15(1):81.
Background
The creation of biobanks depends upon people’s willingness to donate their samples for research purposes and to agree to sample storage. Moreover, biobanks are a public good that requires active participation by all interested stakeholders at every stage of development. Therefore, knowing public’s attitudes towards participation in a biobank and biobank management is important and deserves investigation.
Method
A survey was conducted among family members of patients attending the outpatient department of our institute for a geriatric or neurological visit, documenting their willingness to participate in a biobank and their views on the legal-ethical aspects of biobank management. Information regarding subjects’ attitudes on biomedical research in general and genetic research in particular was also collected. Participants’ data on biobanks were compared with data previously collected from the Italian ethics committees (ECs) to evaluate the extent to which lay people and ethics committees share views and concerns regarding biobanks.
Results
One hundred forty-five subjects took part in the survey. The willingness to give biological samples for the constitution of a biobank set up for research purposes was declared by 86% of subjects and was modulated by subjects’ education. People in favour of providing biological samples for a biobank expressed a more positive view on biomedical research than did people who were not in favour; attitude towards genetic research in dementia was the strongest predictor of participation. Different from ECs that prefer specific consent (52%) and do not choose the option of broad consent (8%) for samples collection in a biobank, participants show a clear preference for broad consent (57%), followed by partially restricted consent (16%), specific consent (15%), and multi-layered consent (12%). Almost all of the subjects available to contribute to a biobank desire to receive both individual research results and research results of general value, while around fifty per cent of ECs require results communication.
Conclusion
Family members showed willingness to participate in a biobank for research and expressed a view on the ethical aspects of a biobank management that differ on several issues from the Italian ECs’ opinion. Laypersons’ views should be taken into account in developing biobank regulations.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1472-6939-15-81) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/1472-6939-15-81
PMCID: PMC4258254  PMID: 25425352
Public attitudes; Biobanks; Genetic research; Bioethics; Ethical policy
7.  Challenges in biobank governance in Sub-Saharan Africa 
BMC Medical Ethics  2013;14:35.
Background
Biological sample and data transfer within and out of Africa is steeped in controversy With the H3Africa project now aiming to establish biobanks in Africa, it is essential that there are ethical and legal governance structures in place to oversee the operation of these biobanks. Such governance is essential to ensuring that donors are protected, that cultural perspectives are respected and that researchers have a ready availability of ethically sourced biological samples.
Methods
A literature review of all legislation, regulations, guidelines and standard operating procedures on informed consent, confidentiality and the transfer of biological samples amongst countries in Sub-Saharan Africa was conducted. In addition, an examination of the websites of departments of health and national ethics committees was performed. Researchers and research ethics scholars in the field in various African countries were contacted for assistance. A literature review of all studies examining participants views on issues related to biobanking in Africa was carried out and five separate studies were found.
Results
It was found that biobanking guidelines differ substantially across Sub-Saharan Africa regarding biobanking and often conflicted across borders. This has the potential to negatively impact collaboration. Furthermore, the guidelines in place often do not recognise the ethical difficulties arising from the transfer of biological samples and are unsuitable to regulate biobanks. Additionally, there is insufficient research into the views of research participants and stakeholders on the use of biological /samples.
Conclusion
Collaboration is necessary to ensure the success of biobanking projects in Africa. To achieve this, there should be some harmonization of guidelines across Africa which would aid in transferring biological samples across borders. These guidelines should reflect the unique ethical issues arising out of the storage and secondary uses of biological samples. Finally, further research into the views of research participants is necessary. Such studies should aid in the drafting of any new harmonization guidelines.
doi:10.1186/1472-6939-14-35
PMCID: PMC3849982  PMID: 24025667
8.  We’re not in it for the money—lay people’s moral intuitions on commercial use of ‘their’ biobank 
Great hope has been placed on biobank research as a strategy to improve diagnostics, therapeutics and prevention. It seems to be a common opinion that these goals cannot be reached without the participation of commercial actors. However, commercial use of biobanks is considered morally problematic and the commercialisation of human biological materials is regulated internationally by policy documents, conventions and laws. For instance, the Council of Europe recommends that: “Biological materials should not, as such, give rise to financial gain”. Similarly, Norwegian legislation reads: “Commercial exploitation of research participants, human biological material and personal health data in general is prohibited”. Both articles represent kinds of common moral intuitions. A problem, however, is that legislative documents are too vague and provide room for ample speculation. Through the use of focus group interviews with Norwegian biobank donors, we have tried to identify lay intuitions and morals regarding the commercial use of biobanks. Our findings indicate that the act of donation and the subsequent uses of the samples belong to two different spheres. While concerns around dignity and commodification were present in the first, injustice and unfairness were our informants’ major moral concerns in the latter. Although some opposition towards commercial actors was voiced, these intuitions show that it is possible to render commercial use of biobanks ethically acceptable based on frameworks and regulations which hinder commodification of the human body and promote communal benefit sharing.
doi:10.1007/s11019-011-9353-9
PMCID: PMC3617351  PMID: 22028241
Benefit sharing; Biobanking; Commercialisation; Commodification; Focus group research; Lay perspective
9.  Seeking an ethical and legal way of procuring transplantable organs from the dying without further attempts to redefine human death 
Because complex organs taken from unequivocally dead people are not suitable for transplantation, human death has been redefined so that it can be certified at some earlier stage in the dying process and thereby make viable organs available without legal problems. Redefinitions based on concepts of "brain death" have underpinned transplant practice for many years although those concepts have never found universal philosophical acceptance. Neither is there consensus about the clinical tests which have been held sufficient to diagnose the irreversible cessation of all brain function – or as much of it as is deemed relevant – while the body remains alive.
For these reasons, the certification of death for transplant purposes on "brain death" grounds is increasingly questioned and there has been pressure to return to its diagnosis on the basis of cardiac arrest and the consequent cessation of blood circulation throughout the body. While superficially a welcome return to the traditional and universally accepted understanding of human death, examination of the protocols using such criteria for the diagnosis of death prior to organ removal reveals a materially different scenario in which the circulatory arrest is not certainly final and purely nominal periods of arrest are required before surgery begins.
Recognizing the probably unresolvable conflict between allowing enough time to pass after truly final circulatory arrest for a safe diagnosis of death and its minimization for the sake of the wanted organs, Verheijde and colleagues follow others in calling for the abandonment of the "dead donor rule" and the enactment of legislation to permit the removal of organs from the dying, without pretence that they are dead before that surgery. While it may be doubted whether such a "paradigm change" in the ethics of organ procurement would be accepted by society, their call for its consideration as a fully and fairly informed basis for organ donation is to be applauded.
doi:10.1186/1747-5341-2-11
PMCID: PMC1920527  PMID: 17603889
10.  Handling ethical, legal and social issues in birth cohort studies involving genetic research: responses from studies in six countries 
BMC Medical Ethics  2010;11:4.
Background
Research involving minors has been the subject of much ethical debate. The growing number of longitudinal, pediatric studies that involve genetic research present even more complex challenges to ensure appropriate protection of children and families as research participants. Long-term studies with a genetic component involve collection, retention and use of biological samples and personal information over many years. Cohort studies may be established to study specific conditions (e.g. autism, asthma) or may have a broad aim to research a range of factors that influence the health and development of children. Studies are increasingly intended to serve as research platforms by providing access to data and biological samples to researchers over many years.
This study examines how six birth cohort studies in North America and Europe that involve genetic research handle key ethical, legal and social (ELS) issues: recruitment, especially parental authority to include a child in research; initial parental consent and subsequent assent and/or consent from the maturing child; withdrawal; confidentiality and sample/data protection; handling sensitive information; and disclosure of results.
Methods
Semi-structured telephone interviews were carried out in 2008/09 with investigators involved in six birth cohort studies in Canada, Denmark, England, France, the Netherlands and the United States. Interviewees self-identified as being knowledgeable about ELS aspects of the study. Interviews were conducted in English.
Results
The studies vary in breadth of initial consent, but none adopt a blanket consent for future use of samples/data. Ethics review of new studies is a common requirement. Studies that follow children past early childhood recognise a need to seek assent/consent as the child matures. All studies limit access to identifiable data and advise participants of the right to withdraw. The clearest differences among studies concern handling of sensitive information and return of results. In all studies, signs of child abuse require reports to authorities, but this disclosure duty is not always stated in consent materials. Studies vary in whether they will return to participants results of routine tests/measures, but none inform participants about findings with unknown clinical significance.
Conclusions
Analysis of how cohort studies in various jurisdictions handle key ELS issues provides informative data for comparison and contrast. Consideration of these and other examples and further scholarly exploration of ELS issues provides insight on how best to address these aspects in ways that respect the well-being of participants, especially children who become research subjects at the start of their lives.
doi:10.1186/1472-6939-11-4
PMCID: PMC2859353  PMID: 20331891
11.  Organ Transplantation: Legal, Ethical and Islamic Perspective in Nigeria 
Organ transplantation dates back to the ancient times and since then it has become one of the important developments in modern medicine; saving the lives, as well as improving the quality of life of many patients. As the demand for organ transplantation far exceeds the organ availability, the transplant program is often saddled with complex legal and ethical issues. This review article highlights the legal and ethical issues that might arise regarding organ transplantation and appraises the existing legal frame work governing organ transplantation in Nigeria. Information on legal, cultural, religious and medical ethical issues regarding organ transplantation in Nigeria was obtained by searching the PubMed and Google Scholar, conference proceedings, seminar paper presentations, law library and other related publications were collated and analyzed. In decision making for organ transplantation, the bioethical principles like autonomy, beneficence and justice must be employed. It was believed by Catholic theologians that to mutilate one living person to benefit another violates the principle of Totality. Among Muslim scholars and researchers, there are those who throw legal support as to its permissibility while the other group sees it as illegal. Organ/tissues transplantation is considered a medical intervention that touches on the fundamental rights of the donor or the recipient. Where there is an unlawful infringement of the right of such persons in any way may be regarded as against Section 34 of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution dealing with right to dignity of the human person. Worldwide, the researchers and government bodies have agreed on informed consent for organ/tissue donation and for recipient should be obtained without coercion before embarking on such medical treatment Worldwide organ transplantation has become the best medical treatment for patients with end stage organ failure. However, there is no law/legislation backing organ/tissues transplantation in Nigeria. The government should take measures to combat transplantation tourism and the problem of national and international trafficking in human tissues and organs, ethics commission and National Transplant registry should be established in order to monitor and regulate the programme in the country.
doi:10.4103/1117-6806.103103
PMCID: PMC3762001  PMID: 24027394
Ethical; Islamic perspective; legal; Nigeria; organ transplantation
12.  Legal and ethical issues in the international transaction of donor sperm and eggs 
Pertinent ethical and legal issues in the international transaction of donor sperm and eggs are discussed. Firstly, there may be legislative and ethical “contradiction” by the local health authority in permitting import of donor gametes, due to varying policies on donor reimbursement in different countries. This is particularly significant in countries where the underlying principle of gamete donation is altruistic motivation, and where reimbursement is given only for direct “out-of-pocket” expenses i.e. traveling costs. Secondly, there is a lack of clear and coherent internationally-binding legislation and regulatory guidelines overseeing the exchange of donor gametes across international borders. In particular, provisions should be made for donor traceability if gametes are sourced from abroad. Thirdly, in the case of “frozen-egg donation” from abroad, patients must rightfully be informed that current cryopreservation technology is still sub-optimal, and all studies have consistently shown that the chances of conception are always lower with “frozen-eggs” compared to freshly-retrieved eggs. Finally, regulatory safeguards should be put in place to prevent fertility clinics and medical professionals from “re-selling” imported donor gametes at a profit to the patient, since it would be thoroughly unprofessional for them to earn a profit simply through the ‘brokerage’ of donated human material.
doi:10.1007/s10815-007-9107-z
PMCID: PMC3455062  PMID: 17450429
Eggs; Ethics; Export; Gametes; Import; Legal; Sperm
13.  Who's minding the shop? The role of Canadian research ethics boards in the creation and uses of registries and biobanks 
BMC Medical Ethics  2008;9:17.
Background
The amount of research utilizing health information has increased dramatically over the last ten years. Many institutions have extensive biobank holdings collected over a number of years for clinical and teaching purposes, but are uncertain as to the proper circumstances in which to permit research uses of these samples. Research Ethics Boards (REBs) in Canada and elsewhere in the world are grappling with these issues, but lack clear guidance regarding their role in the creation of and access to registries and biobanks.
Methods
Chairs of 34 REBS and/or REB Administrators affiliated with Faculties of Medicine in Canadian universities were interviewed. Interviews consisted of structured questions dealing with diabetes-related scenarios, with open-ended responses and probing for rationales. The two scenarios involved the development of a diabetes registry using clinical encounter data across several physicians' practices, and the addition of biological samples to the registry to create a biobank.
Results
There was a wide range of responses given for the questions raised in the scenarios, indicating a lack of clarity about the role of REBs in registries and biobanks. With respect to the creation of a registry, a minority of sites felt that consent was not required for the information to be entered into the registry. Whether patient consent was required for information to be entered into the registry and the duration for which the consent would be operative differed across sites. With respect to the creation of a biobank linked to the registry, a majority of sites viewed biobank information as qualitatively different from other types of personal health information. All respondents agreed that patient consent was needed for blood samples to be placed in the biobank but the duration of consent again varied.
Conclusion
Participants were more attuned to issues surrounding biobanks as compared to registries and demonstrated a higher level of concern regarding biobanks. As registries and biobanks expand, there is a need for critical analysis of suitable roles for REBs and subsequent guidance on these topics. The authors conclude by recommending REB participation in the creation of registries and biobanks and the eventual drafting of comprehensive legislation.
doi:10.1186/1472-6939-9-17
PMCID: PMC2636819  PMID: 19014594
14.  Four phases of checks for exclusion of umbilical cord blood donors 
Blood Transfusion  2011;9(3):286-291.
Aim
The aim of this study was to analyse umbilical cord blood (UCB) collection over 1 year between October 2008 and September 2009, seeking ways to improve the number of suitable banked UCB units. Four phases of the process were investigated, from the consent form to the banking procedure, paying attention to the discarded UCB units.
Material and methods
We recruited couples at 35 weeks of gestation and took an accurate history, focusing on genetic, immunological and infectious diseases. We collected UCB from pregnant women who delivered vaginally or by Caesarean section between the 37–41+6 weeks of gestation. Some units were discarded on the basis of the patients' history, obstetric events or biological criteria. In utero collection was the preferred method of collection.
Results
During the study period, between October 2008 and September 2009, there were 1,477 deliveries in our unit. The number of couples interested in UCB donation was 595 (40.2%-595/1,477). We collected 393 UBC units. We excluded 122 patients at the phase of the history taking, counselling and informed consent (first phase check). Of the 393 units collected, 162 (41.3%) were banked whereas 231 (58.7%) were discarded because they did not fulfil biological criteria (third phase check). The volume of UCB units collected after Caesarean section was greater than the volume of units collected after vaginal delivery (95.4 mL versus 85.0 mL, respectively; p <0.01). The UCB units collected after vaginal delivery contained a higher number of total nucleated cells compared to the units collected after Caesarean section (970x106 cells versus 874x106 cells, respectively; p=0.037). None of the banked UCB units was discarded at the clinical check 6 months after delivery (fourth phase check).
Conclusions
Our study shows that strict observance of each of the checks and the collection strategy is important to guarantee the safety of the UCB units and to maximise the cost-benefit ratio. After the appropriate checks we banked UCB units from only 27.2% (162/595) of the couples who gave consent to the procedure and from only 11% (162/1,477) of all the deliveries in the 12 month study period, as 59.8% of couples were not properly informed about UCB donation.
doi:10.2450/2011.0038-10
PMCID: PMC3136596  PMID: 21627927
cord blood; obstetric factors; stem cells
15.  Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: legal and ethical aspects 
Archives of Disease in Childhood  2006;91(2):192-194.
Attention deficit–hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) remains a controversial disorder, despite it now being a well validated clinical diagnosis. Ethical and legal issues are important in determining how doctors should behave in offering a diagnosis or treatment that may generate strong and unpredictable reactions from children, their families, or other agencies. A model for routine ethical practice was proposed, based on three sets of assumptions. Firstly, that ethical practice is consistent with the four principles of beneficence, non‐maleficence, justice, and respect for autonomy. Secondly, ethical concerns lead to legal processes, whose task is to ensure ethical practice. Thirdly, that we are working in the interests of our patients. Current relevant literature was organised in terms of this model, and recommendations for practice derived from it. Though there is no general ethical problem regarding either the routine diagnosis or treatment of ADHD, ethical difficulties surround some special cases, especially when doctors are working in conjunction with other agencies or coping with non‐medical frameworks. Particular care needs to be taken with confidentiality and consent, the limits of which are currently confused. The model worked well with everyday ethical problems, though more difficult cases required careful individual scrutiny.
doi:10.1136/adc.2004.064576
PMCID: PMC2082674  PMID: 16428370
ADHD; ethics; hyperactivity; hyperkinesis; law
16.  Ethical and Legal Issues in Biobanking for Genomic Research in Nigeria 
The pursuit of genomic research and biobanking has raised concerns and discussions about the ethical and legal implications. Given the specific challenges that surround such enterprise in low and middle income countries, it is pertinent to examine them in the light of the advent of Biobanking and Genomic research in Nigeria. In this paper I discuss the issues and suggest model solutions derived from advanced jurisdictions. These ethical and legal issues are discussed within the context of the legal system of a typical African country whose jurisprudence derives from that of its erstwhile colonial master, the United Kingdom. This includes issues relating to law and human rights, informed consent, native and customary law.
PMCID: PMC3863711  PMID: 24353984
Biobanking; Genomic; Research; Nigeria; Law
17.  Key issues in transplant tourism 
Access to organ transplantation depends on national circumstances, and is partly determined by the cost of health care, availability of transplant services, the level of technical capacity and the availability of organs. Commercial transplantation is estimated to account for 5%-10% (3500-7000) of kidney transplants performed annually throughout the world. This review is to determine the state and outcome of renal transplantation associated with transplant tourism (TT) and the key challenges with such transplantation. The stakeholders of commercial transplantation include: patients on the waiting lists in developed countries or not on any list in developing countries; dialysis funding bodies; middlemen, hosting transplant centres; organ-exporting countries; and organ vendors. TT and commercial kidney transplants are associated with a high incidence of surgical complications, acute rejection and invasive infection which cause major morbidity and mortality. There are ethical and medical concerns regarding the management of recipients of organs from vendors. The growing demand for transplantation, the perceived failure of altruistic donation in providing enough organs has led to calls for a legalised market in organ procurement or regulated trial in incentives for donation. Developing transplant services worldwide has many benefits - improving results of transplantation as they would be performed legally, increasing the donor pool and making TT unnecessary. Meanwhile there is a need to re-examine intrinsic attitudes to TT bearing in mind the cultural and economic realities of globalisation. Perhaps the World Health Organization in conjunction with The Transplantation Society would set up a working party of stakeholders to study this matter in greater detail and make recommendations.
doi:10.5500/wjt.v2.i1.9
PMCID: PMC3812925  PMID: 24175191
Living unrelated donor; Organ trafficking; Transplant commercialism; Infection; Graft survival; Patient survival; Complication
18.  Extensive Neuronal Differentiation of Human Neural Stem Cell Grafts in Adult Rat Spinal Cord 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(2):e39.
Background
Effective treatments for degenerative and traumatic diseases of the nervous system are not currently available. The support or replacement of injured neurons with neural grafts, already an established approach in experimental therapeutics, has been recently invigorated with the addition of neural and embryonic stem-derived precursors as inexhaustible, self-propagating alternatives to fetal tissues. The adult spinal cord, i.e., the site of common devastating injuries and motor neuron disease, has been an especially challenging target for stem cell therapies. In most cases, neural stem cell (NSC) transplants have shown either poor differentiation or a preferential choice of glial lineages.
Methods and Findings
In the present investigation, we grafted NSCs from human fetal spinal cord grown in monolayer into the lumbar cord of normal or injured adult nude rats and observed large-scale differentiation of these cells into neurons that formed axons and synapses and established extensive contacts with host motor neurons. Spinal cord microenvironment appeared to influence fate choice, with centrally located cells taking on a predominant neuronal path, and cells located under the pia membrane persisting as NSCs or presenting with astrocytic phenotypes. Slightly fewer than one-tenth of grafted neurons differentiated into oligodendrocytes. The presence of lesions increased the frequency of astrocytic phenotypes in the white matter.
Conclusions
NSC grafts can show substantial neuronal differentiation in the normal and injured adult spinal cord with good potential of integration into host neural circuits. In view of recent similar findings from other laboratories, the extent of neuronal differentiation observed here disputes the notion of a spinal cord that is constitutively unfavorable to neuronal repair. Restoration of spinal cord circuitry in traumatic and degenerative diseases may be more realistic than previously thought, although major challenges remain, especially with respect to the establishment of neuromuscular connections.
When neural stem cells from human fetal spinal cord were grafted into the lumbar cord of normal or injured adult nude rats, substantial neuronal differentiation was found.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Every year, spinal cord injuries, many caused by road traffic accidents, paralyze about 11,000 people in the US. This paralysis occurs because the spinal cord is the main communication highway between the body and the brain. Information from the skin and other sensory organs is transmitted to the brain along the spinal cord by bundles of neurons, nervous system cells that transmit and receive messages. The brain then sends information back down the spinal cord to control movement, breathing, and other bodily functions. The bones of the spine normally protect the spinal cord but, if these are broken or dislocated, the spinal cord can be cut or compressed, which interrupts the information flow. Damage near the top of the spinal cord can paralyze the arms and legs (tetraplegia); damage lower down paralyzes the legs only (paraplegia). Spinal cord injuries also cause many other medical problems, including the loss of bowel and bladder control. Although the deleterious effects of spinal cord injuries can be minimized by quickly immobilizing the patient and using drugs to reduce inflammation, the damaged nerve fibers never regrow. Consequently, spinal cord injury is permanent.
Why Was This Study Done?
Scientists are currently searching for ways to reverse spinal cord damage. One potential approach is to replace the damaged neurons using neural stem cells (NSCs). These cells, which can be isolated from embryos and from some areas of the adult nervous system, are able to develop into all the specialized cells types of the nervous system. However, because most attempts to repair spinal cord damage with NSC transplants have been unsuccessful, many scientists believe that the environment of the spinal cord is unsuitable for nerve regeneration. In this study, the researchers have investigated what happens to NSCs derived from the spinal cord of a human fetus after transplantation into the spinal cord of adult rats.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers injected human NSCs that they had grown in dishes into the spinal cord of intact nude rats (animals that lack a functioning immune system and so do not destroy human cells) and into nude rats whose spinal cord had been damaged at the transplantation site. The survival and fate of the transplanted cells was assessed by staining thin slices of spinal cord with an antibody that binds to a human-specific protein and with antibodies that recognize proteins specific to NSCs, neurons, or other nervous system cells. The researchers report that the human cells survived well in the adult spinal cord of the injured and normal rats and migrated into the gray matter of the spinal cord (which contains neuronal cell bodies) and into the white matter (which contains the long extensions of nerve cells that carry nerve impulses). 75% and 60% of the human cells in the gray and white matter, respectively, contained a neuron-specific protein six months after transplantation but only 10% of those in the membrane surrounding the spinal cord became neurons; the rest developed into astrocytes (another nervous system cell type) or remained as stem cells. Finally, many of the human-derived neurons made the neurotransmitter GABA (one of the chemicals that transfers messages between neurons) and made contacts with host spinal cord neurons.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that human NSC grafts can, after all, develop into neurons (predominantly GABA-producing neurons) in normal and injured adult spinal cord and integrate into the existing spinal cord if the conditions are right. Although these animal experiments suggest that NSC transplants might help people with spinal injuries, they have some important limitations. For example, the spinal cord lesions used here are mild and unlike those seen in human patients. This and the use of nude rats might have reduced the scarring in the damaged spinal cord that is often a major barrier to nerve regeneration. Furthermore, the researchers did not test whether NSC transplants provide functional improvements after spinal cord injury. However, since other researchers have also recently reported that NSCs can grow and develop into neurons in injured adult spinal cord, these new results further strengthen hopes it might eventually be possible to use human NSCs to repair damaged spinal cords.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040039.
The US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke provides information on spinal cord injury and current spinal cord research
Spinal Research (a UK charity) offers information on spinal cord injury and repair
The US National Spinal Cord Injury Association Web site contains factsheets on spinal cord injuries
MedlinePlus encyclopedia has pages on spinal cord trauma and interactive tutorials on spinal cord injury
The International Society for Stem Cell Research offers information on all sorts of stem cells including NSCs
The US National Human Neural Stem Cell Resource provides information on human NSCs, including the current US government's stance on stem cell research
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040039
PMCID: PMC1796906  PMID: 17298165
19.  Biobanking, consent, and commercialization in international genetics research: the Type 1 Diabetes Genetics Consortium 
Clinical Trials (London, England)  2010;7(1_supplement):S33-S45.
Background and Purpose This article describes several ethical, legal, and social issues typical of international genetics biobanking, as encountered in the Type 1 Diabetes Genetics Consortium (T1DGC).
Methods By studying the examples set and lessons learned from other international biobanking studies and by devoting considerable time and resources to identifying, addressing, and continually monitoring ethical and regulatory concerns, T1DGC was able to minimize the problems reported by some earlier studies.
Conclusions Several important conclusions can be drawn based on the experience in this study: (1) Basic international standards for research ethics review and informed consent are broadly consistent across developed countries. (2) When consent forms are adapted locally and translated into different languages, discrepancies are inevitable and therefore require prompt central review and resolution before research is initiated. (3) Providing separate ‘check-box’ consent for different elements of a study creates confusion and may not be essential. (4) Creating immortalized cell lines to aid future research is broadly acceptable, both in the US and internationally. (5) Imposing some limits on the use of stored samples aids in obtaining ethics approvals worldwide. (6) Allowing potential commercial uses of donated samples is controversial in some Asian countries. (7) Obtaining government approvals can be labor-intensive and time-consuming, and can require legal and diplomatic skills.
doi:10.1177/1740774510373492
PMCID: PMC2917846  PMID: 20693188
20.  Directed organ donation: is the donor the owner? 
Clinical ethics  2008;3(3):127-31.
The issue of directed donation of organs from deceased donors for transplantation has recently risen to the fore, given greater significance by the relatively stagnant rate of deceased donor donation in the UK. Although its status and legitimacy is explicitly recognized across the USA, elsewhere a more cautious, if not entirely negative, stance has been taken. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the Human Tissue Act 2004, and in Scotland the Human Tissue (Scotland) Act 2006, are both silent in this regard. Although so-called conditional donation, donation to (or perhaps withheld from) a specific class, has been outlawed as a product of guidance issued by the Secretary of State for Health issued in the wake of the controversial incident occurring in the North of England in 1998, its intended application to ‘directed’ donation is less certain.
Directed and conditional donations challenge the traditional construct of altruistic donation and impartial (equitable) allocation in a very immediate and striking fashion. They implicitly raise important questions as to whether the body or parts of the body are capable of being owned, and by whom. This paper attempts to explore the notion of donor ownership of body parts and its implications for both directed and conditional donation.
doi:10.1258/ce.2008.008018
PMCID: PMC2948558  PMID: 20890462
21.  Ethical aspects of human biobanks: a systematic review 
Croatian Medical Journal  2011;52(3):262-279.
Aim
To systematically assess the existing literature on ethical aspects of human biobanks.
Method
We searched the Web of Science and PubMed databases to find studies addressing ethical problems in biobanks with no limits set (study design, study population, time period, or language of publication). All identified articles published until November 2010 were included. We analyzed the type of published articles, journals publishing them, involvement of countries/institutions, year of publication, and citations received, and qualitatively assessed every article in order to identify ethical issues addressed by the majority of published research on human biobanking.
Results
Hundred and fifty four studies satisfied our review criteria. The studies mainly came from highly developed countries and were all published in the last two decades, with over half of them published in 2009 or 2010. They most commonly discussed the informed consent, privacy and identifiability, return of results to participants, importance of public trust, involvement of children, commercialization, the role of ethics boards, international data exchange, ownership of samples, and benefit sharing.
Conclusions
The focus on ethical aspects is strongly present through the whole biobanking research field. Although there is a consensus on the old and most typical ethical issues, with further development of the field and increasingly complex structure of human biobanks, these issues will likely continue to arise and accumulate, hence requiring constant re-appraisal and continuing discussion.
doi:10.3325/cmj.2011.52.262
PMCID: PMC3118708  PMID: 21674823
22.  Specimen Collection for Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Research: Harmonizing the Approach to Informed Consent 
Prospective donation of tissue specimens for induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) research requires an approach to informed consent that is constructed for this context. Approaches to informed consent have been variable in ways that threaten the simultaneous goals of protecting donors and safeguarding future research and translation, and investigators are seeking guidance. This analysis addresses this need by providing concrete recommendations for informed consent that balance the goals of iPSC and regenerative medicine researchers with the interests of individual research participants.
Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) have elicited excitement in both the scientific and ethics communities for their potential to advance basic and translational research. They have been hailed as an alternative to derivation from embryos that provides a virtually unlimited source of pluripotent stem cells for research and therapeutic applications. However, research with iPSCs is ethically complex, uniquely encompassing the concerns associated with genomics, immortalized cell lines, transplantation, human reproduction, and biobanking. Prospective donation of tissue specimens for iPSC research thus requires an approach to informed consent that is constructed for this context. Even in the nascent stages of this field, approaches to informed consent have been variable in ways that threaten the simultaneous goals of protecting donors and safeguarding future research and translation, and investigators are seeking guidance. We address this need by providing concrete recommendations for informed consent that balance the perspectives of a variety of stakeholders. Our work combines analysis of consent form language collected from investigators worldwide with a conceptual balancing of normative ethical concerns, policy precedents, and scientific realities. Our framework asks people to consent prospectively to a broad umbrella of foreseeable research, including future therapeutic applications, with recontact possible in limited circumstances. We argue that the long-term goals of regenerative medicine, interest in sharing iPSC lines, and uncertain landscape of future research all would be served by a framework of ongoing communication with donors. Our approach balances the goals of iPSC and regenerative medicine researchers with the interests of individual research participants.
doi:10.5966/sctm.2012-0029
PMCID: PMC3659701  PMID: 23197820
Clinical translation; Ethics; iPS; Induced pluripotent stem cells
23.  The effects of ownership and ownership change on nursing home industry costs. 
Health Services Research  1996;31(3):327-346.
OBJECTIVE. This study examines the effects of ownership type and ownership change on nursing home cost structures, differentiating patient care costs from plant costs. DATA SOURCES. Administrative data from the Michigan Department of Social Services, Medical Services Administration (Medicaid), and the Michigan Department of Public Health are used. Cost data are based on audited cost reports for 393 nursing care facilities in Michigan in 1989. Other facility characteristics are based on data from the 1989 annual licensing and certification survey conducted by the Michigan Department of Public Health. STUDY DESIGN. A series of ordinary least squares regressions is estimated, in which the dependent variable is either per diem patient costs or per diem plant costs. Ownership types are defined as chain, proprietary non-chain, freestanding non-profit, government-owned, and hospital-based facilities. Pooled estimation techniques, as well as separate regressions by ownership type, are presented to test for interaction effects. Key variables include whether a facility changed ownership in the preceding five years and whether chain facilities are in-state- or out-of-state-owned, in addition to size, payer mix, and case mix. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS. Behavioral differences among nursing home ownership types in respect to patient care costs tended to distinguish government-owned and hospital-based facilities from the freestanding homes rather than the usual distinction between for-profit and not-for-profit classes. Variables traditionally included in nursing home cost studies, such as size, occupancy, payer mix and case mix, were found to have similar effects on per diem patient care costs for freestanding non-profit homes as well as for chain proprietary facilities. With regard to the effects of ownership change on per diem plant and per diem patient costs, however, there are few differences among ownership types. Chain and non-chain for-profit facilities, non-profit homes, and hospital long-term care units that had changed ownership reported significantly higher per diem plant costs than facilities without a change of ownership, but did not spend more on patient-related costs. Michigan Medicaid plant reimbursement system policy changes instituted in 1985 to promote continued ownership of facilities were not entirely successful. CONCLUSIONS. Non-profit homes look increasingly like their for-profit counterparts with respect to spending on patient care costs. Increased competition for the more lucrative private-pay patients, coupled with declining state Medicaid reimbursement to nursing homes, may have blurred the historical distinctions between the non-profit and for-profit sectors in the nursing home industry. An exception to increasing homogeneity within the nursing home industry is the tendency of proprietary homes to experience more frequent changes of ownership, which results in higher capital costs passed on to state Medicaid programs. Findings from this study indicate that while facility sales increase per diem plant costs, they do not result in increased spending for direct patient care, suggesting that state Medicaid programs may be indirectly subsidizing facility sales with no accompanying increase in expenditures for patient care. To discourage frequent facility sales, state Medicaid programs may need to consider alternative methods of reimbursing nursing home owners for capital costs.
PMCID: PMC1070122  PMID: 8698588
24.  Engaging diverse populations about biospecimen donation for cancer research 
Journal of Community Genetics  2014;5(4):313-327.
Clinical research increasingly relies upon the availability of appropriate genetic materials; however, the proportion of biospecimens from racial/ethnic minority patients and healthy controls are underrepresented, which preclude equitable research across all patient groups for cancer treatment. National Cancer Institute-funded Community Network Program Centers in California, Florida, and New York collaborated with local community partners to conduct three independent formative research studies with diverse (African American, Asian American, Hispanic, and White) participants to explore their knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about biobanking, and their experiences with the donation of biospecimens. Our findings demonstrated similarities in overall low knowledge and understanding about the use of biospecimens for research. This was exacerbated for non-English speakers. Racial and ethnic groups differed with regard to a number of factors that are obstacles for participation, e.g., continuing medical mistrust (African Americans), lack of benefit (Hispanics), apprehension about the physical toll of donating (Vietnamese), usage of biospecimen for research (Hmong and Chinese), and suspicion of exploitation by corporate entities (Whites). However, participants uniformly reported general interest and willingness to participate in biobanking for altruistic purposes, particularly to benefit future generations. This interest was framed with a strong admonition that donations should be accompanied by transparency about study sponsorship and ownership, distribution and use of biospecimens, and study information that fit participants’ backgrounds and experiences. This cross-cultural regional analysis offers significant insights into the similarities and variations in opinions and perceptions about biobanking and the collection of biospecimens for use in cancer research.
doi:10.1007/s12687-014-0186-0
PMCID: PMC4159470  PMID: 24664489
Biobanking; Biospecimens; Asian Americans; African Americans; Hispanics; Medically underserved
25.  A biobank management model applicable to biomedical research 
BMC Medical Ethics  2006;7:4.
Background
The work of Research Ethics Boards (REBs), especially when involving genetics research and biobanks, has become more challenging with the growth of biotechnology and biomedical research. Some REBs have even rejected research projects where the use of a biobank with coded samples was an integral part of the study, the greatest fear being the lack of participant protection and uncontrolled use of biological samples or related genetic data. The risks of discrimination and stigmatization are a recurrent issue. In light of the increasing interest in biomedical research and the resulting benefits to the health of participants, it is imperative that practical solutions be found to the problems associated with the management of biobanks: namely, protecting the integrity of the research participants, as well as guaranteeing the security and confidentiality of the participant's information.
Methods
We aimed to devise a practical and efficient model for the management of biobanks in biomedical research where a medical archivist plays the pivotal role as a data-protection officer. The model had to reduce the burden placed on REBs responsible for the evaluation of genetics projects and, at the same time, maximize the protection of research participants.
Results
The proposed model includes the following: 1) a means of protecting the information in biobanks, 2) offers ways to provide follow-up information requested about the participants, 3) protects the participant's confidentiality and 4) adequately deals with the ethical issues at stake in biobanking.
Conclusion
Until a governmental governance body is established in Quebec to guarantee the protection of research participants and establish harmonized guidelines for the management of biobanks in medical research, it is definitely up to REBs to find solutions that the present lack of guidelines poses. The model presented in this article offers a practical solution on a day-to-day basis for REBs, as well as researchers by promoting an archivist to a pivotal role in the process. It assures protection of all participants who altruistically donate their samples to generate and improve knowledge for better diagnosis and medical treatment.
doi:10.1186/1472-6939-7-4
PMCID: PMC1475589  PMID: 16600040

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