Genetics: A key component of innovation

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Genetics is the study of variation in the DNA sequence of genes and how this can affect certain traits. Genetic variations are usually hereditary, but can occur spontaneously. This is potentially significant for medicine, as the risk and seriousness of many diseases are influenced by whether or not a person carries certain genetic variants. Using genetics and genomics, researchers can identify genes and gene mutations that play key roles in disease development.

Read more on the role that genetics plays in development of new medicines and diagnostics and on some of the technologies we are exploring.

Bioethics: Our commitment to high ethical standards in genetic research

Charter on genetics

The Roche Charter on Genetics ensures that our genetic research meets the highest standards and is socially responsible.  It goes beyond national and international regulations, embracing the following principles and values, which are based on the following guidelines issued by the World Health Organization (WHO):

  • A commitment to scientific rigour and excellence
  • Respect for individuals’ right to self-determination
  • Compliance with national and international standards
  • Prevention of the misuse of genetic data
  • A commitment not to create genetically identical human beings (human cloning)
  • Timely communication of research results
  • Responsible use of genetic information obtained through research
  • The importance of guidance and counsel from an independent advisory group

Stem cells

Stem cells and their applications offer tremendous potential for relieving chronic pain and treating or even curing disease. We are highly interested in stem cells for use in research and as potential therapies. Stem cell research may eventually enable researchers to find treatments for severe diseases which today have few, if any, effective therapies. These include Alzheimer’s, diabetes, heart failure, multiple sclerosis, paraplegia and Parkinson’s.

Opinions vary on whether stem cells should be used for research and as potential treatments for diseases, and on how society should regulate such activities to accommodate these diverse views. We believe that responsible parallel research using both adult and  embryonic stem cells is necessary to increase the understanding of diseases and to develop new and more effective therapies for diseases that cannot currently be adequately treated.

Read more about our research using stem cells and in our Position on Stem Cells and Cloning.

Bioprospecting

Bioprospecting refers to the collection and analysis of natural materials as potential sources of new medicines.

Many communities have used natural materials in their traditional medicines for generations. We recognise that these communities have the right to maintain access to such resources, and that their knowledge should be respected. It is also critical that natural resources are conserved and that the biological diversity surrounding them is not damaged when they are collected.

Roche does not carry out any activities of this type, nor do we have any plans to. Should this change, we will abide by the 1992 UN Convention on Biological Diversity, which addresses issues relating to conservation and equal access to resources.

More details can be found in our Position on Biodiversity.