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Legal and ethical issues concerning donation and banking and use of stem cells from umbilical cord blood

Applicant Seelmann Kurt
Number 58664
Funding scheme NRP 46 Implants and Transplants
Research institution Juristische Fakultät Universität Basel
Institution of higher education University of Basel - BS
Main discipline Legal sciences
Start/End 01.10.2000 - 31.12.2005
Approved amount 444'255.00
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Lay Summary (English)

Lay summary
Legal and Ethical Issues Raised by Collection, Banking and Use of Stem Cells from Cord Blood

Although collecting, processing and banking of stem cells from cord blood has been rapidly accepted worldwide as an alternative to bone marrow tranplantation, a number of legal and ethical questions pertaining to the use of stem cells from cordblood. These questions are have to be looked at in context of basic fundamental principles of legal ethics. The two main complexes are consent to collecting and legal aspects of banking. These complexes cannot be wholly separated, since consent may depend on the kind of banking envisaged.

There are similarities between the medical novelty of collection and banking of cord blood with the well-known practice of blood donation on the one hand, since blood is involved, but alo with spinal bone marrow donation on the other, since stem cells are involved. From the point of view of the law and of legal ethics, cord blood donation falls between the two, as different prerequisites are involved. Newborn children are involved, cord blood cannot be regenerated, there is no direct manipulation of the body.

Private cord blood banks, which offer collection and banking of cord blood for private use only, are stepping up pressure worldwide to be allowed to start cord blood banking on these lines. There are 5 firms active in the USA, six in Germany, and one - recently granted a licence - in Switzerland. The project aims at dealing with aspects of property - who is the legal owner of cord blood? - and of physical integrity - protection of the individual also for severed part of the body?: Consent raises another issue: who may consent to collection and what limits (welfare of the child) exist?

In particular the questions of consent, property rights, data protection and physical integrity are to be examined systematically. Interdisciplinary activities will involve the project of Alberto Bondolfi, which looks at general legal and ethical issues raised by transplant technologies
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

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