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Research and legislation should go hand in hand, as much as possible
Date:11/23/2009

Carlos Mara Romeo Casabona is Director of the Interuniversity Professorship in Law and the Humane Genome at Deusto University and the University of the Basque Country. The Professorship is largely made up of jurists but also has other experts such as researchers in the fields of molecular biology, medicine and even specialists in ethics.

The Interuniversity Professorship in Law and the Humane Genome at the Universities of Deusto and the Basque Country was created in 1993. The worldwide Humane Genome project was then involved in sequencing the genome - i.e. identifying all the genetic components - for the human being. Various problems arose, such as, if the genes could or should be patented, the use to which the information would be put, and so on. Once the programme was concluded and, based on this knowledge, the Professorship in Law focused on studying how this knowledge could be applied to the diagnosis of certain illnesses. Mr Romeo explained, "What is involved is identifying genes responsible for certain illnesses, as it is known that, if one has certain genes, the risk of contracting specific illnesses is higher. This is the case, for example, of breast cancer". The Professorship also looked at stem cells and cloning. "Our field of study is evolving as the foci of research evolves", he added.

Research and Law

The scientific advances with the humane genome over the past decade has meant that science is in a very favourable position to treat illnesses that previously lacked any medical response and, what is more, has opened a wide range of therapeutic possibilities that are really surprising. Nevertheless, this intense scientific advance is also generating social and judicial conflicts regarding the privacy of persons, protection of data, etc. Mr Romeo recognises that all this involves information that is highly sensitive. This has spurred the Professorship to take on board this topic of data protection regarding a person's
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