Korea’s Efforts to Build Social Consensus Regarding Xenotransplantation Research
Because of a lack of the allografts, xenotransplantation has been suggested as an alternative. However, since xenotrans-plantation holds the potential risk of causing novel/zoonotic infections, it can generate the harm to the safety of society as well as human subjects. Thus, xenotransplantation research requires social consensus throughout the whole process - from its inception to its clinical application. In Korea, since 2004, xenotransplantation research has been conducted, with implementing various programs for reaching social consensus on xenotransplantation. A series of studies for building social consensus has been conducted to those who are not directly related to xenotransplantation research - i.e., general public,
infectionists, and scientific journalists - as well as those who are directly related to xenotransplantation research - i.e., xenotrans- plantation researchers, organ transplantation coordinators, and patients with type 1 diabetes and their family members: opinion survey, focus group survey, consensus conference, press conference, public hearing, etc. Most Koreans (69.8%) indicated that xenotransplantation research is proper and justifiable, but civil panels who participated in consensus conference presented the need of strict regulations for the safety of public health. Xenotransplantation researchers also showed their beliefs that xenotransplantation research is justifiable, but infectionists presented negative opinions regarding the practical possibility of implementing xenotransplantation clinical trials. Organ transplantation coordinators believe that patients might not be reluctant to take xenotransplantation procedure if they can recover from their health. Patients with type 1 diabetes answered that they would be willing to take xenotransplantation procedure if its safety and effects have been proved, but they said that at present they would not participate in clinical trials because they can now adjust their blood glucose sufficiently enough.
By employing these multiple methods and various ways of increasing participation, xenotransplantation research has been regulated. Xenotransplantation researchers have made an effort to conduct their research ethically through establishing their self- regulation guidelines and regulations. In addition, they also tried to develop administrative and legislative procedures for regulating xenotransplantationclinicaltrials. Assuch,regulationsbasedonthe way of reaching social agreement through various methods and participations have important social implication for preparing other regulations in the field of medical science and life science.