Responsible use of organoids in precision medicine: The need for active participant involvement

Michael A. Lensink, Karin R. Jongsma, Sarah N. Boers, Jacquelien J. Noordhoek, Jeffrey M. Beekman, Annelien L. Bredenoord

Published: 01/04/2020


Organoids are three-dimensional multicellular structures grown in vitro from stem cells and which recapitulate some organ function. They are derivatives of living tissue that can be stored in biobanks for a multitude of research purposes. Biobank research on organoids derived from patients is highly promising for precision medicine, which aims to target treatment to individual patients. The dominant approach for protecting the interests of biobank participants emphasizes broad consent in combination with privacy protection and ex ante (predictive) ethics review. In this paradigm, participants are positioned as passive donors; however, organoid biobanking for precision medicine purposes raises challenges that we believe cannot be adequately addressed without more ongoing involvement of patient-participants. In this Spotlight, we argue why a shift from passive donation towards more active involvement is particularly crucial for biobank research on organoids aimed at precision medicine, and suggest some approaches appropriate to this context.

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