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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Why We Need Guidelines for Brain Scan Data – Wired (Evan D. Morris | September 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on September 18, 2019
 

Your brain is a lot like your DNA. It is, arguably, everything that makes you uniquely you. Some types of brain scans are a lot like DNA tests. They may reveal what diseases you have (Parkinson’s, certainly; depression-possibly), what happened in your past (drug abuse, probably; trauma, maybe), or even what your future may hold (Alzheimer’s, likely; response to treatment, hopefully). Many people are aware—and properly protective—of the vast stores of information contained in their DNA. When DNA samples were collected in New York without consent, some went to great lengths to have their DNA expunged from databases being amassed by the police.

Fewer people are aware of the similarly vast amounts of information in a brain scan, and even fewer are taking steps to protect it. My colleagues and I are scientists who use brain imaging (PET and fMRI) to study neuropsychiatric diseases. Based on our knowledge of the technologies we probably ought to be concerned. And yet, it is rare that we discuss the ethical implications of brain imaging. Nevertheless, by looking closely, we can observe parallel trends in science and science policy that are refining the quality of information that can be extracted from a brain scan, and expanding who will have access to it. There may be good and bad reasons to use a brain scan to make personalized predictions. Good or bad, wise or unwise, the research is already being conducted and the brain scans are piling up.

PET (Positron Emission Tomography) is commonly used, clinically, to identify sites of altered metabolism (e.g., tumors). In research, it can be used to identify molecular targets for treatment. A recent PET study of brain metabolism in patients with mild cognitive impairment predicted who would develop Alzheimer’s disease. In our work at Yale, we have used PET images of a medication that targets an opioid receptor to predict which problem drinkers would reduce their drinking while on the medication.

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(China) A 10-year follow up of publishing ethics in China: what is new and what is unchanged (Papers: Katrina A. Bramstedt & Jun Xu | September 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on September 13, 2019
 

Abstract

Background
Organ donation and transplantation in China are ethically complex due to questionable informed consent and the use of prisoners as donors. Publishing works from China can be problematic. The objective of this study was to perform a 10-year follow up on Chinese journals active in donation and transplant publishing regarding the evolution of their publishing guidelines.

Methods
Eleven Chinese journals were analyzed for 7 properties: (1) ethics committee approval; (2) procedure consent; (3) publishing consent; (4) authorship criteria; (5) conflict of interest; (6) duplicate publication; and (7) data integrity. Results were compared with our 2008 study data. Additionally, open access status, impact factor, and MEDLINE-indexing were explored.

Results
Most journals heightened the ethical requirements for publishing, compared to the results of 2008. All 11 now require their published manuscripts to have data integrity. Ten of 11 require ethics committee approval and informed consent for the publication of research studies, whereas in the original study only 2 journals evidenced these requirements. Nine of 11 have criteria for authorship, require conflict of interest disclosure, and forbid duplicate publishing. None of the journals have a policy to exclude data that was obtained from unethical organ donation practices. Nine of 11 journals are MEDLINE-indexed but only 2 are open-access.

Conclusions
Most journals have improved their general ethical publishing requirements but none address unethical organ donation practices.

Keywords:
China; Informed consent; Organ donation; Publishing; Research ethics; Research integrity

Bramstedt, K. and Xu, J. (20019) (China) A 10-year follow up of publishing ethics in China: what is new and what is unchanged. Research Integrity and Peer Review 4(17) https://doi.org/10.1186/s41073-019-0077-3.
Publisher (Open Access): https://researchintegrityjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s41073-019-0077-3

Open consent, biobanking and data protection law: can open consent be ‘informed’ under the forthcoming data protection regulation? (Papers: Dara Hallinan & Michael Friedewald | 2015)0

Posted by Admin in on August 22, 2019
 

Abstract
This article focuses on whether a certain form of consent used by biobanks – open consent – is compatible with the Proposed Data Protection Regulation. In an open consent procedure, the biobank requests consent once from the data subject for all future research uses of genetic material and data. However, as biobanks process personal data, they must comply with data protection law. Data protection law is currently undergoing reform. The Proposed Data Protection Regulation is the culmination of this reform and, if voted into law, will constitute a new legal framework for biobanking. The Regulation puts strict conditions on consent – in particular relating to information which must be given to the data subject. It seems clear that open consent cannot meet these requirements. 4 categories of information cannot be provided with adequate specificity: purpose, recipient, possible third country transfers, data collected. However, whilst open consent cannot meet the formal requirements laid out by the Regulation, this is not to say that these requirements are substantially undebateable. Two arguments could be put forward suggesting the applicable consent requirements should be rethought. First, from policy documents regarding the drafting process, it seems that the informational requirements in the Regulation are so strict in order to protect the data subject from risks inherent in the use of the consent mechanism in a certain context – exemplified by the online context. There are substantial differences between this context and the biobanking context. Arguably, a consent transaction in the biobanking does not present the same type of risk to the data subject. If the risks are different, then perhaps there are also grounds for a reconsideration of consent requirements? Second, an argument can be made that the legislator drafted the Regulation based on certain assumptions as to the nature of ‘data’. The authors argue that these assumptions are difficult to apply to genetic data and accordingly a different approach to consent might be preferable. Such an approach might be more open consent friendly.

Hallinan, D. and M. Friedewald (2015). “Open consent, biobanking and data protection law: can open consent be ‘informed’ under the forthcoming data protection regulation?” Life Sciences, Society and Policy 11(1): 1.
Publisher (Open Access): https://lsspjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40504-014-0020-9

Journals retract more than a dozen studies from China that may have used executed prisoners’ organs – Retraction Watch (Ivan Oransky | August 2017)0

Posted by Admin in on August 15, 2019
 

In the past month, PLOS ONE and Transplantation have retracted fifteen studies by authors in China because of suspicions that the authors may have used organs from executed prisoners.

All of the original studies — seven in Transplantation, and eight in PLOS ONE — were published between 2008 and 2014. Two involved kidney transplants, and the rest involved liver transplants. Two other journals, the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology and Kidney International, have recently issued expressions of concern for the same reason.

In an editorial explaining the seven retractions from its journal, the editors of Transplantation write:

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