Ethical issues in umbilical cord blood banking: a comparative analysis of documents from national and international institutions

Authors

  • Carlo Petrini

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    1. From the Bioethics Unit, Office of the President, Istituto Superiore di Sanità–National Institute of Health, Rome, Italy.
      Carlo Petrini, Bioethics Unit, Office of the President, Istituto Superiore di Sanità–National Institute of Health, Via Giano della Bella 34, I-00162 Rome, Italy; e-mail: carlo.petrini@iss.it.
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Carlo Petrini, Bioethics Unit, Office of the President, Istituto Superiore di Sanità–National Institute of Health, Via Giano della Bella 34, I-00162 Rome, Italy; e-mail: carlo.petrini@iss.it.

Abstract

The issues of collection, storage, and use of cord blood (CB) stem cells have been addressed extensively in national and international guidelines, policies, and regulations. Many of these documents are not binding, but are nonetheless accorded considerable respect on account of the authority of the issuing organizations. Most discussion has to date focused on two topics: informed consent for collection, banking, and use and the debate between those who favor public storage for altruistic purposes and those who advocate private storage for autologous use. There is generally agreement or consensus in the guidelines that public storage for allogeneic transplants is preferable and that private storage should be discouraged. Given the consensus in national and international guidance on these two issues, it is time for other ethical issues to be examined in greater detail. These include additional uses of CB samples, for example, for research or for the production of blood-derived drugs, and the economic implications arising from the extensive international network for the exchange of CB for transplantation.

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