22 Jul 2014

Maori protocol request over treatments

8:13 pm on 22 July 2014

Iwi have told researchers they want Maori protocols incorporated into how human tissue from tangata whenua is taken and used for treatments such as diabetes and gout.

Te Mata Ira - culturally informed guidelines for biobanking and genomic projects - aims to develop an international code for how Maori tissue should be used and stored. The project was launched at the end of 2012.

Principal investigator Maui Hudson said five iwi - including Ngati Whatua Orakei and Ngati Hine - had contributed.

Mr Hudson said he has been told by whanau that samples are a taonga and the consent process must include the spiritual element of samples being given.

In the interim, Mr Hudson said, they had discussed three principles: making sure a person who gives a sample is comfortable giving it, they have control over its use, and integrity is upheld during the process.

He said it was important iwi had a say.

Mr Hudson said there was a preference that when samples were collected for one study, consent was also sought for their use in other research, and they tended to be stored in biobanks.

He said it cost a lot of money to do genetic testing, and people in the field would prefer that the raw data of a genomic sample, such as diabetes and gout, was recorded on an international database.

Mr Hudson said the possible changes meant the current consent process would be changed.

The investigation is expected to be completed next year, he said.