Research Ethics Roundup: The launch of a new accreditation service, clinical trial transparency, and more

by Maeve Luthin, JD, Professional Development Manager

Catch up on the events of the past two weeks in the research ethics world! Whether you read this edition right away or save the stories for later, spend some time learning about what your colleagues have been up to.

Unlikely Partners: The New York Times details the movement that led National Institutes of Health director Francis Collins, MD, PhD, to commission the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM’s) study on the use of chimpanzees in biomedical research, which recommended that chimps should be used only in cases necessary for human health. Last month, Collins accepted a working group’s recommendations regarding how to implement the IOM report, including the retirement of all but about 50 chimps from research.

Alion Launches HRPP Accreditation Services: Alion Science and Technology announced the launch of Alion Human Research Protection Program Accreditation Services, which will provide accreditation for organizations involved in conducting, managing, or reviewing research involving human subjects.

Father’s Genetic Quest Pays Off: Frustrated by doctors’ inability to diagnose his daughter Bea, Hugh Rienhoff, a geneticist-turned-biotech entrepreneur, bought his own lab equipment to sequence family members’ DNA. After finding the gene mutation, the Reinhoff family became a test group for exome sequencing, a procedure that pinpointed the faulty sequence responsible for Bea’s condition.

Breaking the Seal on Drug Research: While the European Medicines Agency considers a proposal to make all clinical trial data public when a drug is approved in the European Union, many pharmaceutical companies are reviewing their own transparency policies, including GlaxoSmithKline, which pledged to release all clinical trial data from the past thirteen years. These changes come at a time when new questions about publication bias have arisen, prompting outside researchers to re-analyze study data to determine whether published results underreport complications or mislead readers as to the efficacy of drugs.

Unverified Science: The inability to reproduce published findings of pre-clinical studies drives up the cost of research as valuable time and money are used to re-create research findings instead of being used to drive new discoveries.