backs storage and use of human biological materials
studies professor James Childress, left, shakes hands with President
Clinton at a formal White House ceremony. Childress and other
members of the National Bioethics Advisory Commission, which
Clinton formed in 1995, were there to present one of four reports
to the President.
medical procedures take place in hospitals and labs across the country,
the biological materials retrieved -- biopsy specimens and organs
and tissues removed during surgery -- aren't necessarily discarded.
Instead, they may be kept and used for research purposes to increase
knowledge about human diseases to better prevent, diagnose and treat
use of such materials for research, however, raises a number of
ethical issues. For example, these specimens can reveal clinical
and sometimes personal information about individuals. Storage guidelines
are also necessary, as there are now more than 282 million specimens
of human biological material in laboratories, tissue repositories
and health care institutions nationwide.
concerns prompted President Clinton in 1995 to establish the National
Bioethics Advisory Commission (NBAC), a 17-member group of experts
in the fields of law, medicine, public policy and biomedical ethics.
Its charge has been to consider the rights and welfare of human
research subjects and the management and use of genetic information.
U.Va. religious studies professor James Childress is a member of
the commission and has chaired its Human Subjects Subcommittee.
commission solicited views from the science and research community,
as well as the public, on the topic of human biological materials
storage. In addition to Childress, two other U.Va. faculty members
have been involved in the work of NBAC: Jonathan Moreno, professor
and director of the Center for Biomedical Ethics, and John Fletcher,
professor emeritus of biomedical ethics.
the commission's report on "Research Involving Human Biological
Materials: Ethical Issues and Policy Guidance," delivered to
President Clinton last month, NBAC focused on to what extent the
existing Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects fully
meets its objective in research involving human biological materials.
It also examined whether the policy provides clear direction to
research sponsors, investigators, Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)
and others regarding the ethical manner in which to conduct research
using these materials. Full story.
gets $4 Million cancer grant
from skin malignancies, prostate cancer is the most frequently occurring
of all cancers. The U.Va.
Cancer Center recently received a five-year, $4.2 million grant
from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to study how prostate cancer
progresses from a localized, slow-growing tumor to one that develops
many men live for years with prostate cancer that develops very
slowly, in some cases the cancer turns aggressive, growing and spreading
quickly," said Michael J. Weber, a microbiologist at U.Va.
and principal investigator for the study. "This research seeks
to understand how that change occurs. Once we determine that, we
hope to prevent malignant progressions from occurring and develop
more effective therapies."
American Cancer Society estimates that approximately 179,300 new
prostate cancer cases will be diagnosed in the United States in
1999, and 37,000 American men are expected to die from the disease.
all cancers, prostate cancer is a disease of uncontrolled cell growth.
Cancer cells grow unpredictably, ignoring the warnings to which
other cells respond. Initially, prostate cancer cells require the
presence of the male hormone, testosterone; cutting off the supply
of testosterone can slow the tumor growth. However, prostate cancer
cells eventually develop the ability to grow and spread independent
of hormone levels. At this stage, the disease is very difficult
to control and treatment options are limited.
Cancer Center, with 135 staff investigators and more than $35 million
in grant funds, aims to bring the benefits of ongoing, highly sophisticated
cancer research to clinical cancer treatment. It is one of only
18 facilities in the country designated by NCI as a clinical cancer
center with demonstrated excellence in basic and clinical research,
as well as the organization and resources necessary to promote interdisciplinary