Study Shows Patients Have Issues With Tissue Research
They're worried, for one, that scientists could clone them using stored tissue samples. There are many reasons people should question how their tissues are being used in research, but at this point, fear of being cloned isn't one of them (cloning humans isn't possible yet). But the study also found that people were opposed to tissues from their diagnostic samples -- like biopsies and blood tests -- being used "as a source of stem cells or by drug companies." to develop products. That is a very current and real issue worldwide: In the US, most people have their tissues in storage at this point, and the laws surrounding their use are unsettled and confused.
According to lead researcher Bronwen Morrell, this study shows exactly what I reported in my recent New York Times Magazine article: People want some level of control over how their tissues are being used in research and whether they'll be commercialized; they also want laws laying out requirements for consent, because at the very least, they want to know what's being done with their tissues.
Morrell also found that, when it came to the sticky issue of money, patients wanted to see profits funneled back into research, not into scientists' pockets (which is not standard practice now). Many said they trust the public sector more with their tissue than private companies: "As long as research was being done in a public hospital they would feel comfortable with that," she said. "But if it was a private company doing the research, especially drug companies, they wouldn't be that happy." This is interesting, in part because it indicates that the public isn't aware of how fuzzy the division between public hospitals and private companies can be these days.