Sweden:Biobank blood “should not be used” in criminal cases

Sweden: Biobank blood “should not be used” in criminal cases

The Minister for Public Health, Health Care and Sport, Gabriel Wikström, recently told the newspaper Dagens Nyheter that the government did not intend to open Sweden’s PKU biobank to a greater extent for use in criminal cases.

However, the government is now looking into whether the register should be opened up to more criminal investigations, and a formal decision will not be made after the end of 2017, after the concerned parties have had their say.

The PKU biobank contains blood samples from nearly all babies born in Sweden since 1975. It is currently restricted for use to screen for rare and serious diseases, but an exception was made in 2003 to help confirm Mijailo Mijailović as the killer of Sweden’s Foreign Minister Anna Lindh.

The PKU laboratory makes up a small part of a complex at the Karolinska University Hospital in Solna just north of Stockholm. It was a hive of activity when Radio Sweden visited one morning as hundreds of samples from newly-born babies across the country had just arrived. Inside a small, narrow office, five people were occupied with filing the cards dotted with blotches of blood.

The Deputy Head of the PKU biobank, Lene Sörensen, is adamant that the biobank should not be used for criminal investigations. She fears people would opt out from it should its purpose be changed.

“It’s a trust thing. If people don’t trust the biobank to be used for what they perceive as good use, why would they want to keep the sample?” Sörensen told Radio Sweden.

The radio report is available @ Radio Sweden

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