Research Ethics Roundup: Unpublished Pediatric Research, Compensating Women for Eggs Donated to Research, and Senator Warren’s Case for Data Sharing

This week’s Research Ethics Roundup discusses a study on the low rate of publication of pediatric studies, the ethics of compensating women for eggs donated to research, Senator Elizabeth Warren’s argument for improved data sharing, and a study of standard versus semi-naturalistic caging for lab rats.

Doctor checking a young patient's temperature

Half of all Pediatric Clinical Trials Abandoned, Unpublished: According to an article written by Stephen Feller of United Press International, researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital followed 559 studies of pediatric patients and found of the completed trials,“30 percent… were not published, erasing the results of 69,165 children in the studies.” One of the researchers, Dr. Natalie Pica, said, “We need to make sure that when children participate in clinical trials, their efforts are contributing to broader scientific knowledge.”

Should We Pay Women to Donate their Eggs for Research? No, and Here’s Why: In a Los Angeles Times column, Michael Hiltzik discusses a proposal to overturn a California’s ban on paying women for donating their eggs to scientific research. Proponents of the bill argue that because women are legally compensated when they donate their eggs to infertile couples, women should be able to receive compensation if they choose to donate their eggs to research. Hiltzik notes, however, that the National Academy of Sciences, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and some bioethicists oppose the latter type of compensation because egg harvesting involves invasive procedures and much less clinical oversight than that provided to research subjects.

Sharing Research Through Data Sharing: In a Networksperspective piece written for the New England Journal of Medicine, Senator Elizabeth Warren addresses concerns about the calls for increased data sharing. She states that while “the privacy of participants must be protected, access to the data underlying trial results can provide an avenue for independent confirmation of results and further analyses of the data set, raising the bar for academic rigor and integrity and speeding the progress of medical research.”

Are Cages Skewing Laboratory Animal Research Results?: In this ALN Magazine article, Elizabeth Doughman reports the findings of a study that compared the behavior of rats in standard lab housing and in a semi-naturalistic environment. The study found that standard lab cages may compromise the animals’ welfare, as the rats kept in standard cages stretched nine times as often as those in semi-naturalistic caging, a marker that the lab rats have much less mobility. The research team also claims that the barren environment of standard caging makes the animals highly sensitive to “otherwise meaningless variables (e.g. new laundry detergent; the sound of dropping something),” which the authors say can skew research results.