From Experimental Technique to Clinical Practice: Which Pathway in Transplant Surgery?

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The question of whether a medical procedure is to be considered experimental or routine practice has enormous practical implications. In transplant surgery, as compared with pharmacologic clinical trials, the transition from experimental procedure to normal care is far from clear cut. Clinical trials comprise 4 well-established phases of evaluation going from phase I, aimed at assessing safety and identifying side effects in a few healthy volunteers, to phase IV, which involves entire populations and is aimed at long-term postmarketing surveillance. In transplant surgery, technical progress and experimentation follow more atypical and individual routes. As compared with pharmacologic research, the decision about "routine practice readiness" of a surgical procedure does not rely on a standardized formal act but rather on experts' capacity to find a consensus based on best practices and on ad-hoc criteria as well. Independent assessment by a panel of experts and oversight by an institutional review board are key to facilitating meaningful protection of transplant recipients and allowing the research to go forward. The framework of the human subjects protection regulations should also consider the transplant of organs that have previously been part of a research project.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)96-99
Number of pages4
JournalTransplantation Proceedings
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 19 2019


  • Ethics Committees, Research/standards
  • Humans
  • Research Design
  • Transplantation/ethics


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