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Controversy has erupted over the use of blood samples — originally collected for a study into rheumatoid arthritis — for other research without consulting the people who donated the samples nearly 20 years ago.

A group of Canadian Amerindians on Vancouver Island who donated the blood are incensed that their blood has been transported to a variety of laboratories and has been used for other studies — including a project on the sensitive issue of the spread of lymphotropic viruses by intravenous drug use.

The case has opened a debate on what should happen to stored biological samples from completed projects, and whether they should be allowed to be moved between different research institutions.

Link to Nature news story

Reference: Nature 420, 111 (2002)

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