The taking, the storage and the use of human samples for research purposes has long been common practice. Sometimes the samples are taken in the context of patient treatment, i.e. they are taken for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes, but sometimes also specifically in the framework of research projects, and then they are stored in so-called biobanks. Biobanks are systematic collections of samples of human bodily substances (e.g. organs, tissue, blood, cells etc.). Relevant data (demographic data, disease type etc.) are kept together with the samples or separately. At the time when the samples are taken into the biobank it can often not be predicted what additional information may be obtained from them and can be connected with the patient’s personal data.
Biobanks involve conflicting interests, such as the protection of personality on the one hand and freedom of research on the other. The justified expectations in the field of research are, however, accompanied by the fear that researchers may use biological material and data for purposes for which the donor has not given his/her pemission, or that information from medical research projects may be passed on to third parties. Because in Federal Law there as yet no specific regulations on the use of human samples for the purposes of research, in May 2006 the SAMS adopted guidelines and recommendations for biobanks, since when it has been actively pursuing this subject.