Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Technology
Networks
Scientific Communities
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

The Ethics of Biobanking and the Human Investment

Published: Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Last Updated: Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Bookmark and Share
Biobanks across South Africa collect and store thousands of biospecimens such as blood, saliva, plasma, and purified DNA?

Unisa’s College of Law (CLAW) held a seminar on the ethical and legal issues around biobanking, on 26 August 2013, to look at some of the controversial issues that are raised by the practice, such as the privacy of individuals who store their biomaterial with these banks or volunteer to assist with research.

Concerns about communicating research findings, dealing with the tissues that remain, the rights of family members, and the thorny questions of payment and benefit sharing were also considered.
Professor Omphemetse Sibanda, Director: School of Law, explained that CLAW was looking to provide legal solutions to the topic, to benefit stakeholders and influence policy development. “This discussion has a national and international context and includes arenas such as stem cell and genome research.”

Blood donors are biobankers

Many people are loyal blood donors and yet, perhaps, are unaware that the South African National Blood Service (SANBS) can be considered as one of the country’s largest biobanks, storing and collecting blood on a daily basis. Organisations such as SANBS, while adhering to legislative policies, are mostly self regulating. Dr Loyiso Mpuntsha, CEO: SANBS, says that private biobanks must adhere to strict self-regulating guidelines such as considering all stakeholders, collaboration on a local and international level, and supplying quality bio specimens. She believes that biobanks are becoming a viable alternative for researchers and medical professionals. “Biobanks are attracting the attention with the government and pharmaceutical industry and funding of contractual agreements.”

International perspectives on biobanking

From an international perspective, some countries have already instituted far-reaching legislation and laws that deal with biobanking including private networks. Iceland and Sweden have introduced laws and the United Kingdom has a human tissue act. Ma’n Zawati, Academic Associate Lawyer, Centre of Genomics and Policy, McGill University Canada, dealt with the regulation of biobanks from an international perspective, pointing out that the public are voluntarily coming forward to donate their human specimens to help research, in, for instance, clinical trials. “There is an ethical imperative attached to this because people are handing over their data but they expect biobanks to do something with this. They need to see progress or they won’t continue.”

Zawati believes that it is impossible to harmonise international law but that it is possible to harmonise the tools for biobanks by providing generic documents that countries can use, citing that they were formulated using international standards.

Establishing a public biobank in South Africa

The situation in South Africa is vastly different from its international counterparts. Currently, there is no public biobank in the country as the field comprises private companies. Professor Michael Pepper, Director: Institute for Cellular and Molecular Medicine, University of Pretoria, says they have conducted research with the Department of Health to possibly establish a public bank. “The response has been overwhelmingly positive after trials to establish a public biobank. This also speaks to the fact that the private sector has spent 150 million rand to store blood, units, stem cells and other material for several years which has not been used. There is no point in storing these cells and not using them.”

Pepper revealed that there are gaps in terms of policies as well as norms and standards but noted that more and more groups involved in human tissues have begun to self regulate and have professional bodies to ensure international standards are met. “Legislation must protect individuals from harmful or unethical practices. It must be uppermost in our minds that we make provisions for all South Africans and allow the public to benefit from advances in medical science.”


Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,500+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More Than 3,800+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.


Scientific News
NIH Study Finds Calorie Restriction Lowers Some Risk Factors for Age-Related Diseases
Two-year trial did not produce expected metabolic changes, but influenced other life span markers.
Immunotherapy Agent Benefits Patients with Drug-Resistant Multiple Myeloma in First Human Trial
Daratumumab proved generally safe in patients, even at the highest doses.
Low-level Arsenic Exposure Before Birth Associated with Early Puberty in Female Mice
Study examine whether low-dose arsenic exposure could have similar health outcomes in humans.
Inciting an Immune Attack On Cancer Cells
A new minimally invasive vaccine that combines cancer cells and immune-enhancing factors could be used clinically to launch a destructive attack on tumors.
‘Mutation-Tracking’ Blood Test for Breast Cancer
Scientists have developed a blood test for breast cancer able to identify which patients will suffer a relapse after treatment, months before tumours are visible on hospital scans.
Cellular Contamination Pathway for Heavy Elements Identified
Berkeley Lab scientists find that an iron-binding protein can transport actinides into cells.
Intensity of Desert Storms May Affect Ocean Phytoplankton
MIT study finds phytoplankton are extremely sensitive to changing levels of desert dust.
Common ‘Heart Attack’ Blood Test May Predict Future Hypertension
Small rises in troponin levels may have value as markers for subclinical heart damage and high blood pressure.
LaVision BioTec Reports on the Neuro Research on the Human Brain After Trauma
Company reports on the work of Dr Ali Ertürk from the Institute for Stroke and Dementia Research at LMU Munich.
NIH Study Shows No Benefit of Omega-3 Supplements for Cognitive Decline
Research was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,500+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,800+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FREE!