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Human Fetal Tissue: A Critical Resource for Biomedical Research

  • 12 January, 2017

Fetal tissue research has made major contributions to our understanding of biology and the development of new medical technologies, including vaccines for many diseases that have saved millions of lives.

Fetal tissue is an essential “gold-standard” resource that enables laboratory-based research into how human tissues and organs develop. With the consent of donors, this unique and valuable tissue can be used for research into basic biological processes and human development, as well as creating new treatments for life-threatening diseases.

Fetal tissue is obtained from spontaneous miscarriages and legal abortions. In each case, the fetal tissue would be discarded if not donated by patients for medical research. Ongoing access to human fetal tissue that has been obtained legally and with donor consent is required to address many important questions in biomedical research and for the development of new therapies.

The International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) endorses fetal tissue research as essential to the prevention and treatment of life-threatening diseases.

This ISSCR portfolio of examples shows how the use of fetal tissue has led to therapies that have saved lives as well as ways in which fetal tissue research continues to be necessary for medical advances. Examples include research in the following areas:

1.       Parkinson’s disease

2.       Huntington’s disease

3.       Blindness

4.       Pregnancy

5.       Zika Virus

6.      HIV

7.      Vaccines

8.      Diabetes