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Current challenges in the regulation of the latest biomedical technologies

In the frame of the VIII St. Petersburg International Legal Forum, a discussion took place, during which participants exchanged views on legal regulation in the field of advanced biomedical technologies, which, being the undoubted result of progress, can in an unexpected way affect people's lives, and therefore need to pay close attention to the topic of synergy between progress and the protection of human rights.

Leading European and world experts took part in the discussion: Secretary of the Council of Europe Bioethics Committee Laurence Lwoff, Director (retired) of the Council of Europe Directorate for Human Rights and Rule of Law of the Council of Europe Philippe Boillat, Judge of the European Court of Human Rights Dmitry Dedov, Member of the Council of Europe Bioethics Committee Siobhan O'Sullivan, Deputy Minister of Health of the Russian Federation Oleg Salagai, Head of the Center for the Treatment of Critical Heart Failure, FSBI NMITS of transplantology and artificial organs named after Academician V.I. Shumakov Alexey Shevchenko and others.

The development of technology blurs the boundaries between medicine and other areas of human activity. New technologies are the source of future progress, but they can be invasive, interfere, control human life and cause fear of abuse. The sphere of new technologies is constantly found in the practice of the ECHR now. Every time a legal problem is solved, the problem of ethics immediately arises. They are extremely closely related to each other. As an example, experts cited some of the most illustrative cases from practice related to surrogacy, assistive methods of human reproduction, issues of euthanasia and artificial life support. The panelists identified three main areas of new technologies that are closely related to human rights issues: genomics, neurobiology, and artificial intelligence.

Currently, each person can undergo a study of his genome, to identify, for example, a predisposition to certain diseases. At the same time there are risks associated with the possible use of the data. By combining genomic data with information from other sources, it is possible to determine the identity of this or that person. This makes anyone vulnerable to potential discrimination, for example, by employers who may refuse to accept employment based on the applicant's genomic data if for some reason they are not satisfied.

Experts also noted the progress in artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence in relation to the analysis of the quality and potential of embryos has great prospects for improving the chances of patients for a successful pregnancy in a shorter time. And, for example, a machine learning algorithm that diagnoses cancers is 16 percent better than doctors. And although artificial intelligence may be ahead of the human being, in some areas, yet this problem has not been completely solved.

Speaking about legal regulation, the participants stressed that, from the point of view of medical workers, open and transparent laws are needed that would help professionals to do their job and ensure the right of patients to receive adequate medical care. As a successful example of legal practice, the Act on Transplantology in Russia was given.

Speaking about biomedical law and legislation, the representative of the Minister of Health of the Russian Federation said that in Russia this area is governed by a set of documents, the key of which is Federal Act No. 323-FZ "On the fundamentals of protection of public health in the Russian Federation." However, it is necessary to decide which areas of technology development require additional regulation and implementation problems. Among these spheres is the theme of genomics and genome editing, as well as the theme of improving human nature through progress.

Intergovernmental organizations, in particular the Council of Europe, play an important role in the issue of holding an international dialogue on the problems of the relationship between the development of new technologies and the protection of human rights. According to the CE representative, progress has an international dimension. All countries face the same challenges. This area should be inclusive for all stakeholders, including lawyers, doctors, scientists, competent authorities and, of course, representatives of civil society and the public at large.


Photo: RAPSI

Based on the SPILF (St. Petersburg International Legal Forum)

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