J Med Ethics 37:512-514 doi:10.1136/jme.2010.041848
  • Point of view

British transplant research endangered by the Human Tissue Act

  1. James F Douglas4
  1. 1NIHR Biomedical Research Centre, Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, MRC Centre for Transplantation, King's College, London, UK
  2. 2Harefield Hospital, Imperial College, London, UK
  3. 3Institute of Cellular Medicine, Newcastle University, UK
  4. 4School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, Queen's University, Belfast, UK
  1. Correspondence to Antonia J Cronin, NIHR Biomedical Research Centre, Guy's and St. Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, and MRC Centre for Tran, MRC Centre for Transplantation, NIHR Biomedical Research Centre - Transplant Theme, King's College London, 5th Floor Tower Wing, Guy's Hospital, Great Maze Pond, London SE1 9RT, UK; antonia.cronin{at}
  1. Contributors AJC is a consultant nephrologist the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre, Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, and MRC Centre for Transplantation, King's College, London. She has an interest in transplantation and completed a Wellcome Trust-funded PhD in Medical Law and Ethics. Her thesis examined the development and evolution of organ transplantation. She is currently chair of the ethics committee of the British Transplantation Society. MR is Professor of Transplant Immunology based on the Harefield site of the National Heart and Lung Institute. She is also a consultant Clinical Scientist and Head of the Tissue Typing Laboratories at Harefield Hospital. JD is Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the Freeman Hospital and Principal Investigator at the Institute of Cellular Medicine at the Medical School, Newcastle University. JFD is a consultant nephrologist from Queen's University in Belfast. He has over 40 years experience in the field of clinical transplantation. He is also a qualified barrister. All authors have published papers in the field of transplantation in peer reviewed journals. All authors are currently members of the British Transplantation Society Council. Between them they have considerable knowledge and experience in the field. All authors contributed to the composition of this paper.

  • Received 15 December 2010
  • Accepted 6 February 2011
  • Published Online First 5 May 2011


For over 50 years, research has made an invaluable contribution to the remarkable success of clinical transplantation. Landmark scientific discoveries include the description, development and practical use of HLA tissue typing,1–3 understanding of the role of antibodies in hyperacute rejection4 and the use and application of immunosuppressive treatment to prevent graft rejection.5 6

Transplantation has saved thousands of lives. Immunosuppressive protocols are highly sophisticated and transplant outcomes are better now than they have ever been. However, complications occur and challenges remain. Transplant outcomes could still be better. Progress depends on continuing scientific study of factors in both donor and …