A few prominent medical investigators have squeezed the Trump government's ban on the use of controversial fetal tissue in research and named the movement a roadblock to & # 39; mission to advance medical science & # 39; in a new main article.
Research conducted using fetal tissue has led to life-saving developments such as the measles vaccine and the progression from HIV to AIDS.
But it has been obtained from recently demolished fetuses, a practice that some have moral objections to.
On July 5, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) broke ties with the University of California, San Francisco (SF) and Dr. Joseph & # 39; Mike & # 39; McCune, who did research there on fetal tissue, chose not to renew or extend his contract with the institution's lab.
It was a victory for anti-abortionists, but Dr. McCune and Dr. Irving Weissman of Stanford University returned in a letter from Tuesday and condemned the ban on indirectly endangering the health and life of many.
On July 5, the US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar (photo) announced that the government would no longer fund or contract scientists with fetal tissue research. Scientists condemned the ban as & # 39; lives in danger & # 39; by blocking critical research that led to vaccines and a better understanding of health problems in pregnant women and fetuses
Fetal tissue has a long – if enveloped and misunderstood – history in the US.
The use of these tissues first came to the fore when they were used in the 1950s to develop the polio vaccine.
Polio vaccination has saved more than 16 million people worldwide from paralysis.
About a decade later, in the 1960s, cells called fibroblasts were harvested from two electively degraded fetuses.
The first chickenpox, red dog (which is the & # 39; R & # 39; in the MMR recording), hepatitis A and one form of each of the shingles and rabies vaccines were developed in those cells.
And today, scientists still use the same embryonic cells to develop those vaccines – half a century later – because they can continue to multiply without collecting new fetal tissue.
Only those two samples of electively degraded fetal tissue have an immeasurable impact on human health.
Embryonic cells are not like those that make up the body of an adult or even a newborn baby.
They are & # 39; pluripotent & # 39 ;, which means that they have not yet distinguished themselves in different types of fabrics.
Embryonic stem cells are from fetal tissue and are even more undifferentiated than the stem cells in adult bone marrow.
Scientists are developing techniques to rewind (so to speak) cell samples from newborns, so that they return to their pluripotent form, but this process is far from perfected and ready for use for research.
Until then, scientists can use fetal tissue from stillbirth, miscarriage or broken-down fetuses.
The first two are less of an ethical quandry, but are unpredictable, which makes collecting samples more difficult and traumatic for the women who have to authorize the use of the tissue for research.
Although it is still a small puddle, tissue from elective abortions is more easily available.
But anti-abortion feelings are swelling and spreading across the US.
In line with this movement, the Trump administration banned research into fetal tissue last summer.
Drs McCune and Weissman claim that the tissue is still used for vital research, including testing the safety of antiviral drugs to treat HIV, autoimmune diseases and to give scientists a better understanding of how pregnant women and their babies & # 39; s develop diseases.
& # 39; We claim that this research has been conducted in a manner that is ethical and legal and that it has yielded knowledge that has saved lives, in particular those of pregnant women, their unborn fetuses and newborns & # 39 ;, they write in Voice Cell Reports.
The funding of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for that research has now been withdrawn.
& # 39; To the extent that it was motivated by the personal religious beliefs of those in the chain of authority that led to the prohibition, this prohibition also appears to violate the separation of church and state & # 39 ;, wrote the editors.
& # 39; Citizens who do not adhere to the same religious beliefs nevertheless have the opportunity to access life-saving therapies that are or can be shown to be completely dependent on the use of fetal tissue for their discovery and development. & # 39;
In a brash motion, they suggested that the same should be applied in the opposite direction, meaning that those who resist fetal tissue testing should not reap the benefits.
& # 39; We at least challenge them to remain true to their beliefs: if they want to short-circuit a scientific process that has led to medical progress, they must promise not to accept the health benefits that such progress offers, & # 39 ; They wrote.
& # 39; Whether intentionally or neglected, such a real or potential health hazard for many American citizens drives us to call on the judicial, legislative and executive powers of our government to determine the consequences for those in the chain of authority that has announced this financing ban. & # 39;
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