- News Home
5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
- About Us
Research on U.K. Nuke Plant Workers Ignored Consent Law
17 November 2010 5:18 pm
The British government has apologized for 40 years of postmortem research done on nuclear plant workers—and other individuals—without proper consent. A report released yesterday blames British pathologists "profoundly ignorant of the law" for ethical lapses in scores of research projects in which pathologists and coroners obtained and provided tissues to scientists interested in measuring radiation exposures and their impact on the body.
The Inquiry into Human Tissue Analysis in U.K. Nuclear Facilities was launched in 2007 and led by lawyer Michael Redfern. The final report notes that the investigated research projects, which involved taking tissue from more than 6000 people from the 1950s to the early 1990s, produced significant data published in peer-review journals. But the report concludes that many pathologists violated the Human Tissue Act of 1961 that demanded a family's consent to remove tissue for reasons other than determining the cause of death. The government's public apology was issued by Chris Huhne, the U.K. Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.
Some of the unauthorized research, the Redfern report notes, helped revise a formula for calculating exposure to plutonium by analyzing a person's urine. Other work was intended to examine the link between radiation exposure and disease by measuring tissue levels of strontium-90 and other elements; one strontium-90 project, for example, examined bones taken from more than 3000 people between 1955 and 1973.
Although all the organs and tissues removed have been destroyed, the Redfern Inquiry concluded that much of the data should remain available for research so long as those from whom the tissues were taken could not be identified. The inquiry notes that there were several futile efforts to set up a national registry in which U.K. nuclear facility workers could volunteer for postmortem studies. "A unique opportunity to investigate the effects of relatively high historic exposures to radiation and to put such post mortem work on a legitimate footing was missed," the report states.