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Human Tissue Act: implications for sports science
  1. James H K Hull1,
  2. Paula Ansley2,
  3. Les Ansley2
  1. 1
    Faculty of Healthy and Social Care Sciences, St George’s Hospital, London, UK
  2. 2
    University of Northumberland, UK
  1. James H K Hull, Faculty of Health and Social Care Sciences, St George’s Hospital, Cranmer Terrace, Tooting, London, SW17 ORE, UK; jiminio{at}doctors.org.uk

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In September 2006, an Act with significant implications for sports science research conducted in the UK came into force. The Human Tissue (HT) Act replaced the previous version of 1961 and affects all scientific practice that involves human tissue sampling and storage.1

The HT Act was conceived in response to shortcomings revealed in a series of public inquiries into UK hospital practice over the past 25 years;2 3 in particular, to address the use of human tissue and organs without appropriate patient consent. Consequently, its purpose is to provide a new legal framework for the acquisition, analysis and storage of human tissue in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In order to implement this Act, a special authority (the Human Tissue Authority; HTA) was also established.

Since inception, the Act has had significant implications for both clinical and research practice in the UK.4 5 Indeed, although the Act primarily concerns pathological specimens, it affects all practice that involves human tissue sampling. This is particularly true in sports science, where collection, storage and analysis of human samples are fundamental to many studies.

Categories of “relevant” human samples in the HT Act

I. Specifically identified relevant material

This includes material such as bodily organs and tissues, consisting largely or entirely of cells, and clearly identifiable and regarded as such. The category includes internal organs and tissues, skin and bone; and specifically the following:

  • stem cells created inside the human body

  • embryonic stem …

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