Proposal for creation of biobanks
A report by an MSAH working group on the feasibility of creating data banks of human genetic samples, was submitted to the Minister of Health and Social Services Paula Risikko, 12 October.
The report stresses that the effective use of human genetic sample data collections is in the common interest and that Finland should establish such biobanks, which would preserve human genetic samples and data pertaining to them for future research purposes. The creation of biobanks could, according to the report, help promote products and services to promote public health.
The report argues that the arrangement of sample collections into biobanks would help improve research and the development of important innovations in public health. It would also create new opportunities for collaboration, for instance between academic research and industry, help strengthen Finland's international competitive edge and clarify the preconditions of joining in international cooperation.
But the report underlines that the work of biobanks requires oversight, increased transparency and efforts towards greater standardization.
The report proposes that the approval of donors would have to be sought for samples to be transferred to a biobank. Such approval would have to be based on proper knowledge of uses of biobanks. Donors would be entitled to know what their samples are used for and to have the opportunity to have a say in how they are used. Donor confidentiality would be uppermost in biobank responsibilities concerning information, working method transparency and official oversight.
The transfer to biobanks of samples that have already been collected to diagnostic and research purposes will be possible only with the consent of donors or of the National Authority for Medicolegal Affairs. The report proposes the creation of a biobank board tasked to ensure the ethical assessment of biobank activity.
Ms Marja-Liisa Partanen, Deputy Director-General te. +358 9 160 73804 and mr Kimmo Pitkänen, Ministerial Advisor, tel. +358 9 160 74112