Human Tissue Act (2006)

Human Tissue Act (2006)

The UK operates a series of tissue banks that are "not for profit" resources where UK medical researchers can source tissue. If the tissue required is not readily available from these banks, ethical approval from local NHS hospital trusts and informed consent from donors is required before the research can commence.

Recently, a number of international commercial companies have begun selling human tissue. It is therefore possible to purchase this material without any knowledge of its source or of any ethical approval given for its collection. Researchers must be aware that the purchase and use of human material under these circumstances would be considered unethical in the UK. The responsibility rests upon researchers to ensure they have documented evidence of ethical sourcing prior to purchase, storage or use of human material.

Guidance is available from the Human Tissue Authority at HTA - Human Tissue Act.  (Note there is separate legislation for Scotland)

The Scottish Executive has also issued a Guide to the implications of the Human Tissue (Scotland) Act 2006 (pdf).

Useful information and advice is also available from the MRC Regulatory Support Centre.