Stem Cell Biobanks for Research

  • Luciano Vellón
  • Angel G. Martin


The collection and storage of human tissue samples has been present in medicine for centuries, however, biobanking has recently become a dedicated activity. The technological developments that have allowed the isolation, storage and long term viability of human cells ex vivo, and to obtain relevant scientific information, including genetic information, open tremendous possibilities for advancing biomedical research. At the same time, these possibilities have raised complex ethical issues regarding tissue donors, researchers using samples and society awareness of biobanking as a whole. This article aims to review the operation of stem cell biobanks, related ethical issues and the legal framework in Spain. Special consideration will be given to the new but revolutionary appearance of induced pluripotent stem cells. Most of the topics discussed here will be in the framework of banking adult derived stem cells, which do not entail in themselves any significant ethical dilemma.