For one thing, this makes it extremely complicated to carry out major international studies. In the latest issue of Nature Biotechnology, Swedish ethics researchers at the Center for Bioethics (CBE), together with leading biobank researchers, put forward a pioneering solution: a set of practical ethical guidelines for biobank research.
Biobanks consist of systematically gathered biological samples and are valuable for both research and medical treatments. When tissues samples are linked to good clinical data, they become indispensable to medical science. At the same time a number of ethical issues are raised regarding the use of these samples. For instance, can we be certain that information about an individual will not reach the wrong people, such as employers and insurance companies?
“It is crucial to be able to weigh the conflicting interests, so that the regulation of biobank research doesn’t become a patient security problem in diagnosis, care, and treatment,” says Mats G. Hansson, professor of biomedical ethics and director of the Center for Bioethics at the Karolinska Institute and Uppsala University in Sweden.
Today there is a plethora of extremely comprehensive guidelines and regulations in different countries, which entails major complications for biobank scientists, especially in international collaborative projects. In other words, there is a crying need for a simple model providing a comprehensive ethical balancing of medical needs and personal integrity concerns.
The article in Nature Biotechnology presents for the first time an ethical framework for research using previously collected tissue samples, guidelines that can be used as a practical and direct instrument for researchers. Together with an article by the same researchers in the journal The Lancet Oncology from 2006, which provides guidance for the collection of new samples, and an article by Mats G. Hansson published in the latest issue of Pathobiology presenting a manual for biobank research, central issues involving biobank research have now been given a comprehensive solution. Hansson feels that it is important that ethical questions surrounding medical research be discussed and examined in the same forum as the scientific discussion is carried on.
“It’s also important that proposals regarding the ethical balancing of various interests be put through the same type of independent scrutiny by being peer-reviewed in established scientific journals, just like medical research,” he avers.
“The framework is not only an instrument for researchers, but can also serve as a guide for ethics committees throughout Europe.”
Anneli Waara | alfa
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The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet
22.09.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
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Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
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Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
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