The ethical, legal and social implications of umbilical cord blood banking: learning important lessons from the protection of human genetic information.

David Weisbrot*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Internationally networked umbilical cord blood banks hold great promise for better clinical outcomes, but also raise a host of potential ethical and legal concerns. There is now significant accumulated experience in Australia and overseas with regard to the establishment of human genetic research databases and tissue collections, popularly known as "biobanks". For example, clear lessons emerge from the controversies that surrounded, stalled or derailed the establishment of some early biobanks, such as Iceland's deCODE, Autogen's Tonga database, a proposed biobank in Newfoundland, Canada, and the proposed Taiwan biobank. More recent efforts in the United Kingdom, Japan, Quebec and Tasmania have been relatively more successful in generating public support, recognising the critical need for openness and transparency, and ample public education and debate, in order to build community acceptance and legitimacy. Strong attention must be paid to ensuring that other concerns--about privacy, discrimination, informed consent, governance, security, commercial fairness and financial probity--are addressed in structural terms and monitored thereafter, in order to maintain public confidence and avoid a backlash that inevitably would imperil such research. Once lost, credibility is very difficult to restore.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)525-549
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Law and Medicine
Volume19
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012

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