T.The National Institutes of Health announced on April 16 that they were lifting restrictions on research on fetal tissue introduced by former President Donald Trump.
The agency’s notice of the change states that the NIH will no longer convene the Ethics Committee on Human Fetal Tissue Research to review new outside grants and proposals using fetal tissue, but will continue to require researchers to approve Obtain and not pay for this tissue from donors and obey all state laws that govern the research. Politico Reports.
Fetal tissue has become a politicized issue in biomedicine as it is most commonly collected during elective abortions. Such tissues have been instrumental in exploring everything from virology to the developing brain. Fetal cells have also been used to develop treatments and therapies for a variety of diseases, including Parkinson’s, Zika, HIV, and even COVID-19. The monoclonal antibody therapy that Trump received in the hospital with his own onset of illness was developed using fetal tissue.
In 2019, Trump banned the NIH from funding government scientist work that relied on fetal tissue. While the ban did not extend to non-governmental laboratories such as those at universities, the regulation introduced new restrictions on their work. Grant proposals and contracts for the use of fetal tissue submitted to the NIH were subjected to an additional ethical review in the form of an anti-abortion advisory board. The Washington Post reported at the time. The board, which met only once last August, rejected 13 of the 14 proposals it had examined.
The 2019 changes “affected almost every facet of the laboratory,” said Carolyn Coyne, a microbiologist at the University of Pittsburgh who uses fetal tissue to study how viruses enter the placenta The scientist last year. Scientists have been forced to seek private tissue donations or turn to other systems, such as induced pluripotent stem cells derived from adults, to continue their science.
In some cases, projects have been postponed beyond expectations that they would never be reviewed. “When I spend hours writing a scholarship that I think is really good science and send it to NIH. . . It will get stuck there, ”said Anita Bhattacharyya, a stem cell scientist at the Waisman Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison The scientist a year ago. “We’re so busy as scientists that it’s a waste of time just to write a scholarship that won’t go anywhere.”
That January, more than 100 scientific organizations wrote to President Joe Biden urging him to “rapidly lift research restrictions and policy changes affecting human fetal tissue (HFT).” In a House hearing on Thursday (April 15), the Secretary for Health and Human Services, Xavier Becerra, indicated that such an announcement could be imminent, saying, “We believe we need to do the research that needs to be done is to make sure we incorporate innovation and innovation to make all of these types of treatments and therapies available to the American people. “
In a statement sent to The scientistThe International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR), the largest professional body of stem cell researchers, praised the lifting of so-called “arbitrary restrictions” and added that research funding should be based on “the scientific and ethical merit of each proposal”. The ISSCR welcomes the return to evidence-based policymaking. “
In a statement, 26 House Democrats said reversing the NIH was “an essential step in protecting the advancement of our scientific community”. The hill Reports.
Anti-abortion advocacy groups have condemned the reversal. “There are superior and ethical alternatives, such as adult stem cell models, which are used by countless scientists around the world to design and manufacture advanced drugs that treat patients without exploiting innocent lives,” said Tara Sander Lee, director of life sciences at the Charlotte The Lozier Institute, an anti-abortion nonprofit, reports appeal.