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Tissue donors don't own their cells, says judge

April 26, 2006 This article courtesy of Nature News.

Decision opens repository to university researchers.

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A US federal judge has issued a ruling that could have implications for deciding who owns biological samples. On 14 April, the judge ruled that Washington University in St Louis, Missouri, owns the tissue samples donated by patients for medical research. The decision means that the university can once again make its tissue bank available to researchers. The repository holds samples from more than 30,000 men, but was closed when litigation began.

The action was brought by surgeon William Catalona, who used the tissue bank's samples to develop a test for detecting prostate cancer. He says he plans to appeal against the decision.

Catalona sought control of the specimens in 2003, when he moved to Northwestern University in Chicago. When Washington University refused, Catalona claims that he got 6,000 donors to request that their samples be transferred to him. Washington University then asked the courts to decide who controlled the samples.

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