Research Ethics Roundup: Publicly Posting Primate Research Data, New Common Rule Takes into Account Public Concerns, Zika Research Recruitment Efforts, and Critics Question CIRM’s Output

This week’s Research Ethics Roundup examines the case for sharing data from research with primates, what the new Common Rule looks like, successful Zika research enrollment numbers, and the debate over what the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine has achieved.

To Treat Primates More Humanely: Transparency
In this Scientific American article, Monique Brouillette finds that researchers are embracing open-data efforts as one way to reduce the number of animals used in medical research. For example, one pathologist in Wisconsin publicly releases the results data from his Zika research on primates for other scientists to use for their own projects. PRIM&R Board of Directors member Christine Grady points out that for most human clinical trials, federal law currently requires the results to be posted online in part to prevent duplicative research.

The Revised Common Rule: A Tribute to the Past and a Promise for the Future
In this New England Journal of Medicine Perspective piece, Jerry Menikoff, Julie Kaneshiro, and Ivor Pritchard summarize how the recently published revised Common Rule differs from the proposals that preceded it. They point out that the new rule does not contain the controversial proposal to require informed consent for research with unidentified biospecimens. but does contain some of the more popular proposals from previous versions, including that informed consent forms be redesigned to facilitate increased comprehension.

Scientists Don’t Have A Decade to Find A Zika Vaccine. They Need Volunteers Now.
Lena H. Sun reports for The Washington Post on why young women are volunteering to receive experimental vaccines for the Zika virus. The virus, which now exists in 58 countries, puts pregnant women and their unborn children at risk. Researchers have successfully recruited volunteers for their initial vaccine research in large part because volunteers are aware of the birth defects that Zika can cause.   

California Voters Were Promised Cures. But the State Stem Cell Agency Has Funded Just a Trickle of Clinical Trials
In this STAT article, Charles Piller examines critics’ concerns over the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), which the California electorate voted to fund in 2004 after federal funding restrictions were placed on embryonic stem cell research. STAT’s investigation found that much of the funding has been distributed for infrastructure and preclinical research needs as opposed to funding for human clinical trials. CIRM’s defenders, however, point out that the institution’s research has led to thousands of academic articles.