St. Jude, El Salvador create research ethics committee

The establishment of research ethics committees (REC) in El Salvador will enhance the ability of that country to undertake clinical trials aimed at improving cure rates of pediatric catastrophic diseases, according to investigators from St. Jude Children's Research Hospital who helped to establish the committees.

The new programs not only ensure rigorous ethical oversight of research involving human participants, but also serve as a model for other institutions in high-income countries to create or strengthen existing RECs in low-income countries, the investigators said. A report on the establishment of these RECs in El Salvador appears in the December issue of Lancet Oncology. Once formed, RECs provide oversight while guiding clinical trials designed to reverse the relatively low cure rates of many adult and pediatric diseases in low-income countries compared to those in high-income nations, the authors said.

The establishment of the REC in El Salvador is important because investigators in low-income countries often have little or no access to such groups, said Miguela A. Caniza, M.D., assistant member of the St. Jude Infectious Diseases Department and director of its Infectious Diseases International Outreach Program. Research institutions in high-income countries require that a REC be in place before they collaborate with international partners, she noted.

"The absence of such RECs either restricts or prevents just the collaborative research needed to help improve medical care in countries with limited resources," Caniza explained. "Existing hospital ethics committees usually can offer only general ethical oversight of difficult cases in patient management in the hospital and do not have the expertise needed to take on the ethical requirements required by collaborative research sponsored by high-income countries." Caniza is lead author of the report in Lancet Oncology. Establishing the REC also addressed a mandate from the Council fo

Contact: Summer Freeman
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

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