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The Korean Journal of Pathology 2005;39(6): 365-371.
Bioethical Review on the Use of Human Tissue.
In Hoe Ku
Deptartment of Human & Social Science, The Catholic University of Korea, College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea. ihku@catholic.ac.kr
Hospitals and medical research institutions have vast holdings of tissues stored in tissue banks. Tissue can end up in a tissue bank for many different reasons. Tissue samples are taken as part of normal diagnostic procedures, and the remaining samples after analysis may be stored for secondary analysis to confirm the diagnosis, for quality control or for research purposes. If the tissues have been stored properly, in principle, it is possible to perform almost all the genetic tests. This opens up possibilities for an expanded use of such tissues in medical research, and therefore tissue banks have become scientifically and economically valuable resources. New genetic testing technologies with their scientific and economic potential are raising ethical concerns about the use of older, stored tissue samples, in particular those that were obtained for one purpose and can now be used for other purposes. Much of these tissues was obtained without consent or with a consent that does not cover genetic testing. There are no general ethical guidelines that can decide whether a specific research project is justifiable. In some cases, proxy consent or an analysis of ownership may be useful. However, use of tissue samples, in most cases, will depend on whether the project is worthwhile and ethically acceptable according to today's standards.
Key Words: Tissue bank; Informed consent; Implied consent; Proxy consent; Ownership