DEC 16, 2018 7:32 PM PST

Important Biomedical Research At Risk Of Being Defunded

WRITTEN BY: Abbie Arce

In September the Department of Health and Human Services (D.H.H.S.) released a statement citing “serious regulatory, moral and ethical considerations“ about research involving fetal tissue. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) saying on Monday that it would spend 20 million dollars over the next two years to seek alternatives. The department also promised to review all government funding for labs currently using fetal tissue during research.

 

Despite the announcement, scientists at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) were shocked to receive an audit letter last week from the NIH. The letter warned that their $2 million contract would be extended for only 90 days during an audit after which it may be canceled. Contracts for USCF are typically renewed for a year at a time. The letter came as part of a broader push to reduce the use of this kind of tissue by the D.H.H.S which oversees both the NIH in the FDA.

 

This challenge comes after the appointment of a new assistant secretary for health at the D.H.H.S, Brett P. Giroir, who was appointed by Trump in February 2018. Emails show that Giroir was heavily involved with the move to challenge important biomedical research over the use of fetal tissue.

 

Researchers use the tissue, left over from abortions, to develop life-saving drugs and vaccines. The tissue is also used for a variety of scientific testing including the study of cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and blindness to name a few. A key component of the affected research at UCSF had been the testing of antiviral drugs for HIV treatment.

 

Scientists do this testing by introducing human cells to laboratory mice via injection. The mice bodies then accept the cells, similar to how we accept -or reject- implanted organs. The mice then provide valuable test subjects with systems that respond much like that of a human.

 

Opposition groups, who claim to be pro-life, consider the use of such tissue a desecration of the human body. These groups question if the tissue was donated by donors who had been made fully aware of the intended use for the collected cells.

 

Scientists, who say D.H.H.S. has hobbled their life-saving research, lose the ability to test on a human system without needing human subjects. Up until this point research like this has saved millions of lives and has been a critical component to countless medical advances. Scientists say the ability to test on a human immune system, as is provided by the fetal tissue, is indispensable particularly so in diseases like HIV which only infect humans, treatments for which cannot be tested on animal subjects.

 

Eventual alternatives will likely depend on altering adult tissue in hopes of producing the types of cells needed for research. Scientists also note that sometimes tissue from miscarriages is seen as a favorable alternative to intentionally aborted fetal tissue. Scientist groups though claim hard-to-track abnormalities in miscarriages may alter test results. Researchers also cite the unplanned circumstances of miscarriages which make it harder to obtain useable tissue samples.

 

Sources: ABC News

About the Author
  • Abbie is an AFAA certified personal trainer and fitness instructor with an interest in all things health-science. She has recently graduated with her BS in Applied Sport and Exercise Science from Barry University in Miami. Next, she intends to earn an MPH with a focus in Epidemiology.
You May Also Like
DEC 14, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
tRNA Plays a Role in the Immune Response to Stroke
DEC 14, 2020
tRNA Plays a Role in the Immune Response to Stroke
At one time, researchers knew that various forms of RNA served a few different critical roles in the creation of protein ...
DEC 14, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
Cannabis Users Need More Anesthetic During Surgery than Nonusers
DEC 14, 2020
Cannabis Users Need More Anesthetic During Surgery than Nonusers
Anecdotal evidence suggests that cannabis users require more anesthetic at the beginning of surgery than those who do no ...
DEC 18, 2020
Health & Medicine
Not Just THC and CBD: Study Investigates Potential of Minor Cannabinoids
DEC 18, 2020
Not Just THC and CBD: Study Investigates Potential of Minor Cannabinoids
Cannabinoids are the natural compounds in the cannabis plant that interact with the body's endocannabinoid system.&n ...
DEC 23, 2020
Cancer
A Combination of Photo and Sonodynamic Therapies Could Assist in Treating Brain Cancer
DEC 23, 2020
A Combination of Photo and Sonodynamic Therapies Could Assist in Treating Brain Cancer
Brain cancer is an incredible challenge for modern medicine. Most drugs don’t make it past the blood-brain barrier ...
DEC 22, 2020
Health & Medicine
Cannabis Use May Help People on an Opioid Detox Program Stay on Track
DEC 22, 2020
Cannabis Use May Help People on an Opioid Detox Program Stay on Track
New research suggests that cannabis use by people being treated for opioid addiction might improve outcomes and reduce t ...
DEC 27, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
Delivering DNA- & RNA-Based Therapies in a New Way
DEC 27, 2020
Delivering DNA- & RNA-Based Therapies in a New Way
Gene therapy holds tremendous promise for its potential to cure genetic diseases. We've also recently seen how critical ...
Loading Comments...