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scientists respond to the Government’s publication of the Human Tissue Bill

Professor Andrew George, Professor of Molecular Immunology at Imperial College London & Chair of Ethics Committee, said:

“In recent years clinicians and scientists have changed the way in which they obtain tissue for research, and the change in legislation reflects current practice and beliefs. It is important for research to be seen as a partnership between scientists and patients. This Bill could provide a framework on which to build this partnership, by providing patients and their relatives with the confidence that research will be carried out in an ethical manner and with appropriate consent. It is to be hoped that this will encourage ethical research, while protecting patients and their relatives.”

Dr Phil Dyer, President of British Transplant Society, said:

“Organs for transplant is a separate issue to organ retention and it’s very important that any new laws should not limit the UK’s effective clinical organ transplant policy. It’s also important that any new laws do not limit effective research.”

The Royal College of Pathologists, said:

“The Royal College of Pathologists welcomes the introduction of the Human Tissue Bill to regulate the retention of human tissues after death. The improved regulatory system is intended to reassure bereaved families about the lawful keeping and uses of human tissues from post mortem examinations. The College hopes that the Bill will permit, with consent where so required, the lawful use of human tissue in medical education and research for the benefit of future patients.”

Professor James Underwood, President of the Royal College of Pathologists, said:

“While I welcome new legislation to replace the now discredited Human Tissue Act 1961, the Bill published today may place new but unwarranted restrictions on using surplus tissue from living patients for harmless and beneficial purposes.”

Professor Sir Colin Berry, Professor of Morbid Anatomy & Histopathology, said:

“I very much welcome this. It’s good to see a carefully designed Bill which safeguards the interests of both the next of kin of the donors and those who carry out research into problems of disease in man.”

Dr Susanne Sorensen, Head of Research at the Alzheimer’s Society, said:

“The Alzheimer’s Society welcomes the Human Tissue Bill and hopes that it will fulfill its objective of raising the confidence both in the scientific community and in society in general. The Quality Research in Dementia consumer network constantly puts the supply of neurological tissue for research as one of their priorities in order to further research into the understanding of the causes and possible development of a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementias. Comments from carers of people with dementia indicate that there is a willingness to donate tissue if prospective donors are sure that they and their tissue donations are treated with care and respect.”

Dr Simon Festing, Association of Medical Research Charities, said:

“The process of consent should not and cannot be too complex or detailed if it is to be truly informed. Of course patients need to be confident that they are being asked for consent properly, but they would be the first to suffer if research is hindered by overly detailed restrictions.”

Dr Kevin Shakesheff, Tissue Engineering Group, University of Nottingham, said:

“As a scientist developing new medical treatments for major human diseases I need to use human tissue in experiments. Its important to me that my work is properly regulated and that patients and the public have confidence in my working procedures. This bill is a welcome step in helping my medical research continue within a framework that our Society can be comfortable with.”

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