The ISSCR is troubled by the recent decision by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to “conduct a comprehensive review of all fetal tissue research.” The directive appears to come after intensive lobbying efforts by special interest groups with the goals of delaying or curtailing scientific research that relies on fetal tissue. Fetal tissue research has been necessary for the development of vaccines and therapies that have saved millions of lives, and continues to be important for the future of medicine. Decisions about how best to conduct research and to advance human health should be based on science and medicine, not ideology or politics.
Research using fetal tissue has led to the development of vaccines such as those for polio, rubella, and measles. Fetal tissue is still helping advance science, with research underway using cells from fetal tissue to evaluate therapies for conditions including Parkinson’s disease, ALS, and spinal cord injury. Fetal tissue is also necessary for the development of potential treatments for Zika virus and HIV/AIDS.
The fetal tissue that is used for research would otherwise be discarded if not used for research, and is ethically obtained under long-standing regulations supported by both Republican and Democratic administrations. Research that has saved lives, and will likely save more, should not be delayed for political reasons.Note: The ISSCR and 64 scientific, medical, and patient organizations wrote in opposition to a U.S. House of Representative's proposal to restrict federal funding for fetal tissue research on 10 September.