Research Ethics Roundup: Developments in the Animal Field, Proposed Changes to the Common Rule, and More

From major developments in the animal research field to the new proposed changes to the Common Rule, this week’s Research Ethics Roundup examines new ethical concerns in a changing research landscape.

daydreaming-chimpanzee-1553285-638x477NIH to Retire All Research Chimpanzees: NIH will send their research chimpanzees to sanctuaries and will begin to phase out their support for research on chimpanzees that they do not own. NIH’s director, Francis Collins, said NIH decided to end their chimpanzee research program because the need for research on chimpanzees had declined substantially over the past five years. Critics argue chimpanzees are still needed for medical research efforts.

Pressure Mounts for Increased Trial Data TransparencyBioethics International issued a report criticizing pharmaceutical companies’ clinical trial transparency efforts in 2012 . The nonprofit is launching a “Good Pharma Scorecard” to raise awareness of industry practices.

Bacteria on the BrainBacteria on the Brain: A California surgeon used fecal bacterium to infect terminally ill patients’ brains. The surgeon was later barred from further research after his IRB cited him for conducting unauthorized research.

A Controversial Rewrite For Rules To Protect Humans In Experiments: The Department of Health and Human Services’ proposed changes to the Common Rule are generating a strong debate among the research ethics community. Critics argue the new rules are vague and that the changes may undermine current protections for human subjects. (Looking for more information about this topic? Visit PRIM&R’s NPRM Resources page.)

China’s bold Push into Genetically Customized Animals: Chinese researchers have adopted CRISPR-Cas9 (a gene-changing technology) to manipulate animal DNA. Recently, Chinese scientists have produced a large number of CRISPR-related research papers but ethicists are concerned about the implications of using CRISPR to make changes in embryos.