Researchers at University of Copenhagen have launched an initiative to address the legal and ethical issues of bio banks where human tissue is collected for research purposes.
In biobanks, human biological samples are stored and used to investigate cure for diseases or simply for academic purposes within universities.
Biobanks involve a number of ethical and legal concerns [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biobank_ethics], for instance, over the right to privacy of the donor, the extent to which he or she can be informed about the results of a certain experiment, the commercialisation of results and ownership of the specimen.
The UK Biobank project for instance, has established an Ethics and Governance Framework to ensure that data and samples are “only used for scientifically and ethically approved research”.
Professor of law at the University of Copenhagen Jens Schovsbo said the new project would help to solve legal and ethical questions about human tissues collection.
“When we uncover the ethical and legal dilemmas related to bio banking in the research project ‘Global genes, local concerns’, we do so in order to develop new guidelines for the work of the bio banks”, he said.
“In the research project we are working to ensure that we get the optimal output of the modern international bio banks – without it being at the expense of the people, who ultimately make research possible”.
The issues that the project will try to address could be for instance about the requested anonymity of the donor or the protection of the rights of people donating from areas of the world where they can be less informed about the procedure involved.