Biobanking of blood and bone marrow: Emerging challenges for custodians of public resources

- Journal of Law and Medicine
Author/s: -Aparicio, Lorena -Lipworth, Wendy -Then, Shih-Ning -Stewart, Cameron -Coghlan, Patrick -Kerridge, Ian -Fleming, Jennifer.
Journal: J Law Med
Year: 2013
Volume: 21
Issue: 2
Pages: 343-350
Start Page: 343

The Australian Bone Marrow Donor Registry (ABMDR) is a publicly funded company that is part of an international network that facilitates unrelated bone marrow transplantation. This role means that the ABMDR has access to a large biospecimen repository, therefore making it a highly valuable research resource. Recognising the potential value of these biospecimens for research purposes, the ABMDR is in the process of determining whether, and how, to share its biospecimens with other biobanks. While this would undoubtedly be of value to the scientific community, and ultimately to the wider community, it would also inevitably transform the role of an institution whose primary role is therapeutic, and would compromise the degree of control that a custodian has over donated material. This article describe the challenges confronting the ABMDR, and organisations like it, in balancing their duties to donors, patients, researchers and the general public. These problems have led inevitably to the use of “property” rights language in the discussion of these issues but notions of gift, ownership, trusteeship and transfer might also be considered.