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Singapore Issues Guidelines for Human Tissue Research

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/444503

Nov 12, 2002
By Pooja Vig
Reuters Health
SINGAPORE

Building on existing ethical practices in the city-state, Singapore's Bioethics Advisory Committee (BAC) has issued new guidelines covering human tissue research and banking.

Since its inception in December 2000, the government-appointed BAC has been examining ethical, legal, and social issues arising from biomedical research and development. Earlier this year, the committee announced research-friendly recommendations relating to the use of human embryonic stem cells specifically for therapeutic cloning.

According to Professor Lim Pin, chairman of the BAC, the guidelines aim to address two key issues--respect and welfare of the donor, and confidentiality.

The new guidelines stress the importance of informed consent, especially in cases where surplus tissue from therapeutic or diagnostic purposes may be used for research. Also, all donated tissue samples for research use must be donated, without any claim to property or future rights.

Individual tissue banks and research centres currently adhere to these principles, and the new set of regulations formalizes these on a national level. "We are the first country to have such focused national guidelines," Prof. Lim Pin said.

"We require informed consent before we collect cord blood stem cells for research," Dr. Stephen Bartelmez, Director of stem-cell based therapies firm ViaCell Singapore, told Reuters Health. "It is an industry practice."

The BAC also recommended the setting up of a statutory board to oversee and license institutions and companies that carry out human tissue research and banking, making it necessary that all such activities be approved and monitored.
 

© 2002 Reuters Ltd