Human tissue research goes public

A coalition of not-for-profit organisations that promotes alternatives to animal experimentation is targeting the general public for the first time.

Focus on Alternatives (FoA) previously focused on the scientific community, but is now hitting the public with the message that more human tissue for research could reduce the 2.7 million animal experiments carried out each year in the UK.

The group, which includes the RSPCA, the Dr Hadwen Trust and the UK Human Tissue Bank, is encouraging members of the public to ask doctors to donate tissues removed during operations to medical research. It is also asking people to register to bequeath tissues to research after they die.

FoA spokesperson Carol Newman said that organ retention scandals such as at the Alder Hey children's hospital in Liverpool had given tissue donation for research a bad press, and the FoA was seeking to educate the public about the benefits of human tissue research.

'The UK Human Tissue Bank has noted a shortage of human tissue, so we're explaining the benefits of the research and telling folk how to donate,' said Newman.

The organisations involved in the FoA will distribute leaflets to members and promote the campaign on their websites. FoA is also running a media relations campaign targeting national and regional press and animal, pet and general interest media.

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