Recently, a survey was conducted in Australia to study the attitudes of people towards "tissue banking". The results show that a number of Australians are concerned about the outcome of storage of tissue samples at hospitals.
Researchers from the University of Sydney found that ,most people were wary about biopsy tissue being stashed away by hospitals. Many fear that these tissues could possibly be used to produce human clones in the future.
Their fears stem from the possibility that tissues can be a source of stem cells .A rich source for research purposes, stem cells have revolutionized genetic technology. Hospitals that store such tissues usually use it for conducting research or even pass it on to other private companies requiring it for the same purpose.
One of the researchers, Bronwen Morrell, communicated to media that, the laws relating to tissue banking are not regularized and standardized. The federal rules and state rules steer away from each other in certain points.
The study has revealed that the public have expressed a desire to be kept in picture, regarding how tissues taken from their bodies would be put to use. They have voiced their opinion that they would appreciate if their permission is sought before any tissue is removed for research purposes. They also made it clear that it should be revealed to the donor if the tissues are used for some kind of profitable purpose.The people were also asked in the survey if they would like to contribute tissues for any particular area of research.
Although Australian government has clearly banned reproductive cloning, the survey shows that people still fear that it could be done in Australia. The federal government is in fact reconsidering whether therapeutic cloning should be allowed informed the researchers.
Somehow the public seemed to trust public hospitals involved with research more than private hospitals. Few people felt that the profits generated through research should definitely be channelised back into research projects.
The current research has been sandwiched into a three tier program, intending to dig deeper into the ethics related to tissue/tumor banking. The current survey is part of a three-part study into in the ethics of tumor banking.
The first part of the research has been published in the Journal of Law and Medicine earlier this year. The second part of the research is only being analysed.Doctors and experts were interviewed and data was collected.
The last section of the research, involved a through questioning of people affected by tissue banking, such as patients themselves, their relatives and next of kin.
The researchers after a thorough analysis may make recommendations that may enable regularization of the procedures which tissue banks should adhere to.