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Achieving Informed Consent for Cellular Therapies: A Preclinical Translational Research Perspective on Regulations versus a Dose of Reality.

  • Author(s): Anderson, Aileen J
  • Cummings, Brian J
  • et al.

A central principle of bioethics is "subject autonomy," the acknowledgement of the primacy of the informed consent of the subject of research. Autonomy requires informed consent - the assurance that the research participant is informed about the possible risks and benefits of the research. In fact, informed consent is difficult when a single drug is being tested, although subjects have a baseline understanding of the testing of a pharmacological agent and the understanding that they can stop taking the drug if there were an adverse event. However, informed consent is even less easily achieved in the modern arena of complex new molecular and cellular therapies. In this article, we argue that as science confronts new issues such as transplantation of stem cell products, which may live within the participant for the rest of their lives, researchers must carefully consider and constantly re-examine how they properly inform subjects considering participation trials of these novel therapeutic strategies.For example, the manufacture of a vial of a cell product that consists of a collection of growing cells is very different than the production of a vial of identical pills, which can be presumed to be identical. The scientific concepts on which these cellular approaches are based may seem alien and incomprehensible to a research subject, who thinks of a clinical trial as simply the selection and testing of the most efficacious pharmaceutical agent already proven to work in preclinical animal studies. The research subject would be wrong.

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