To the Editor:
The Feature in the February issue by Scott et al.1 on the policy challenges of biobanking characterizes broad specimen donor informed consent as “ethically contentious.” A survey of public attitudes is cited. This same survey found that a significant percentage of individuals are prepared “to consent broadly to future research use and to forego additional choices as a result”2.
With our perspectives in patient advocacy or at research centers aimed at bringing new regenerative therapies to patients, we have consistently emphasized the value of research donors' perspectives. In the context of protocols for creating immortalized cell lines for banking and distribution, we have also witnessed support for broad consent. Indeed, enthusiasm is even more pronounced among those touched by disease, and patient donors actually express concern that study-specific consent can be burdensome and impede research.
This experience suggests to us that broad consent is ethically responsible, provided there is comprehensive oversight and a robust informed consent process. With the continued support of donors, we look forward to applying this model in biobanking efforts.
Scott, C.T . et al. Nat. Biotechnol. 30, 141–147 (2012).
Simon, C.M. et al. Genet. Med. 13, 821–831 (2011).
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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Hempel, C., Lomax, G. & Peckman, S. Broad consent in biobanking. Nat Biotechnol 30, 826 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1038/nbt.2349
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