First-in-human (FIH) research has several characteristics that require special attention with respect to ethics and human subjects protections. At least some nanomedical technologies may also have characteristics that merit special attention in clinical research, as other papers in this symposium show. This paper considers how to address these characteristics in the consent form and process for FIH nanomedicine research, focusing principally on experimental nanotherapeutic interventions but also considering nanodiagnostic interventions.
It is essential, as a starting point, to recognize that the consent form and process are by no means the primary protectors of human subjects (although they are sometimes so regarded). Instead, consideration of the form and content of informed consent becomes relevant only after a clinical trial has been reviewed and deemed scientifically and ethically acceptable.
Two convergent types of challenges to informed consent are posed by nanomedicine FIH research. First, some issues appear generally applicable to FIH research, but have specific nanomedicine implications.