Children and Biobanks: A Review of the Ethical and Legal Discussion

- Human Genetics
Author/s: -Hens, Kristien -Levesque, Emmanuelle -Dierickx, Kris
Journal: Human Genetics
Year: 2011
Volume: 130
Issue: 3
Pages: 403
Start Page: 403

The use of tissue samples from children is vital to genetic research. Collections of such tissue, in so-called biobanks, can take the form of large-scale prospective cohort studies or disease-specific studies using tissue of children with that specific disease. Collections of samples gathered in a diagnostics context, such as blood spot cards, can also be used for genetic research. Research on stored tissue samples from children poses ethical questions that are different from those posed by the use of samples from adults. Also, the ethical questions raised by the participation of children in biobanks are not analogous to those raised by the participation of children in clinical trials. In this review we first give an overview of the international ethical guidelines and legal regulations concerning biobanking and minors. Next, we review the different themes that occur in the ethical literature on this subject. Specifically we focus on questions of risk and benefit, consent and assent and the return of individual results. We also discuss the concept of solidarity, which is a relatively new concept in the context of children and biomedical research. To conclude, we discuss the gaps and questions raised by the review.