Stories about: consent

Donation and compensation in research: Should patients be paid?

Cells collected from patients are the backbone of much of biomedical science. When should patients be paid for those cells? (jepoirrier/Flickr)

A few months ago, my mother had a skin cancer removed from her nose. To the best of our knowledge, the tumor tissue was discarded in a biohazard bag, never to be seen again.

Often, though, bits of tumor like that removed from Mom become the raw material that keeps the engine of research running. And every once in a while, a patient’s tissues lead to a real blockbuster, like a cell line or a protein with uniquely valuable biological properties or a lucrative drug that benefits millions of people.

Which brings us (literally) to the $64,000 question: Should the patient who donated those tissues reap some of the rewards?

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