As the plural form in the phrase ‘life sciences’ suggests, the ways of approaching ‘life’ and its processes have been evolving under the impetus of distinct but closely related scientific disciplines. Each one had led to manifold concrete applications that have succeeded one another in various sectors. Interestingly, however, the examination of ‘life’ is no longer the preserve of life scientists, and, in the field of medicine in particular, the human body is also increasingly becoming subject to the expertise of professionals coming from totally different fields such as data technologies.
From biology to biomedicine, with the same prefix ‘bio’ (From the Greek ‘life’), semantic evidence is given that the body and its processes have been attracting increasing interest… and special attention among specialists. But the latter piece of evidence does not alone suffice to reveal the whole diversity of extracorporeal applications that are now made available for the benefit of patients. Beyond that semantic hint, indeed, new technologies, which had initially nothing to do with the science of life, are also transforming the modes of producing biological knowledge and the ways of using body substances or processes in the context of ever more advanced therapies.
Not only human cells and tissues as transplants, as raw materials or as biological samples, but also the inner workings of cells, genetic sequences or protein functions translated into digital images, algorithmic calculations and data-based profiles are now useful for medical purposes. Their use is likely to radically change tomorrow’s medical practice. And this might well generate in the coming years new avenues for discussion at the crossroads of legal disciplines such as product safety law, technological law, data protection law, consumer law, and health care law.
There is, in other words, a Matter of Substance that needs to be considered in the sphere of law by way of anticipation.