Human Tissue Act may have helped research, says study

Sep 01, 2009

Fears that medical research using tissue such as blood or material from biopsies would be obstructed by the Human Tissue Act 2004 may have been unfounded, a new study from the University of Leicester reveals.

In fact, the research suggests that the Act may have helped by giving Research Committees clarity when making decisions.

The Human Tissue Act 2004 came into force in September 2006. It regulates the storage, use and disposal of human tissue in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Many medical researchers in UK universities and research institutions had feared that the legislation would unduly restrict research based on tissue samples and that ethics committees might struggle to interpret the Act.

But the study by University of Leicester researchers Emma Angell and Mary Dixon-Woods suggests these fears may have been misplaced. Based on an analysis of letters written by ethics committees - 50 before and 50 after the Act was implemented in 2006 - they conclude that the Act did not seem to make ethics committees more cautious about approving research involving . In fact, ethics committees were overall less likely to raise concerns about consent after the Act was introduced.

Commenting on the study, published in the Journal of Clinical Pathology, author Emma Angell said that Research Ethics Committees seemed clearer about what would and wouldn't be allowed by law after the Act came into force. "We think this is because both researchers and committees now have authoritative guidance and training on what is acceptable," she said. Researchers are now better informed about what to do to obtain approval, and committees know what to look for in applications, she added.

One important feature of the Act was that it allowed recognised research ethics committees to approve some studies to use anonymised tissue samples without consent in certain circumstances.

"Researchers were worried that committees would be too cautious about this, but our analysis suggests that is not the case", said Professor Dixon-Woods. "Committees are looking out for the interests of patients, and it seems to us that having the legislation has made them more confident about making decisions about what form of consent to insist on. Committees will want to ensure that patients' consent will be obtained unless there are very good reasons not to. When researchers present those reasons, it seems committees are prepared to give them due consideration".

Source: University of Leicester (news : web)

Explore further: Medtronic spends $350M on another European deal

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Extensive publication bias for Phase I drug trials

Feb 18, 2009

A study published in this week's issue of the open-access journal PLoS Medicine suggests that, in comparison to other types of trials, the results of Phase I drug trials are far less likely to be published.

Math Says Homeland Security Committee Most Partisan

May 17, 2005

The Select Committee on Homeland Security is one of the most partisan in the U.S. House of Representatives. No, that’s not the latest finding of a Washington think-tank, it’s the results of a new analysis ...

Recommended for you

Medtronic spends $350M on another European deal

7 hours ago

U.S. medical device maker Medtronic is building stronger ties to Europe, a couple months after announcing a $42.9 billion acquisition that involves moving its main executive offices across the Atlantic, where it can get a ...

Mind over matter for people with disabilities

Aug 26, 2014

People with serious physical disabilities are unable to do the everyday things that most of us take for granted despite having the will – and the brainpower – to do so. This is changing thanks to European ...

Ukraine's former world's tallest man dies

Aug 25, 2014

Ukraine's tallest man, who briefly held the world record but gave it up to live as a recluse, has died due to complications from the condition that saw him never stop growing, local media reported Monday.

User comments : 0