An introduction to the importance of fetal tissue research

Congress has come calling Fetal tissue provides an unparalleled window into how human tissues develop and are affected by disease. Adult brain cells, for example, regenerate slowly if at all, but when fetal brain cells are transplanted they will grow readily. Most scientists accept that this process, which is already being used in some studies, could eventually phase out the need for fetal tissue collection altogether.

Fetal tissue research declining, still important

The Reagan administration in ordered an end to federal funding of this research. Antiabortion leaders, lawmakers and all the Republican presidential candidates have used the opportunity to demonize abortion and paint a ghoulish picture of organ harvesting, all in an effort to gin up public disgust and attract public support for themselves and against abortion and Planned Parenthood.

The fallout from the videos has been swift, severe and wide-ranging. Congress to ban research on a fetus outside the uterus, if that fetus had a beating heart. Finally, for fetal tissue research in particular, regulation was applied under the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act that was ratified by the states in and regulated the use of human organs and tissues after death, prohibiting their sale for profit and their use for any but research or therapeutic reasons.

Public Health Service, U. In the case of a fetus, almost all interventions exceed minimal risk, and the regulations did not distinguish between fetuses that were carried to term and those intended for abortion.

Many researchers said they look forward to a time when fetal tissue will be unnecessary. The sole waiver issued by this body was to test the efficacy of using fetal blood samples for prenatal diagnosis of sickle cell anemia.

To be sure, the current controversy threatens not just access to safe and legal abortion and the providers who care for the women who seek this essential health service.

Insoo Hyun, a bioethicist at Case Western Reserve University, said the newer, lab-derived cells have not been perfected and researchers still need fetal tissue to ensure that the reprogrammed cells are of comparable quality.

This first incarnation of the controversy coincided with public revelations about the infamous Tuskegee syphilis study—a study that enrolled black men living in Alabama to investigate the long-term effects of syphilis. That research is now guiding the development of new therapies to protect unborn babies.

The simplest way to obtain human cortical neurons is from fetal brain samples, he says.

Fetal Tissue Research: A Weapon and a Casualty in the War Against Abortion

Research on the Fetusfetal research following abortion was permitted under subsequent DHEW regulations for therapeutic reasons, but otherwise held to the standard of "minimal risk. Elizabeth Nash, Guttmacher Institute. Pro-lifers believe doing anything with an aborted fetus is morally wrong, because abortion itself is wrong; pro-choicers say that since abortion is both legal and inevitable, why not use discarded fetal tissue for research that may relieve the suffering of millions of people?

Not only do fetal cells grow at a much faster rate than adult cells, they also elicit less of an immune response, which lowers the risk of tissue rejection.

If laws that block fetal tissue research are enacted, they would slow or prevent the development of new therapies that have the potential to ease human suffering and save millions of lives.

Hyun said that in addition to other concerns, scientists are hampered by the unpredictability of supply when working with fetal tissue. This has been essential for us to develop technologies to culture miniaturized human lungs, livers, and guts.

Although six years has passed since that report, little has changed. Researchers have also had success using fetal stem cells to treat spinal cord injuries. As Tom Beauchamp, a professor of philosophy at Georgetown University, puts it: Fetal research, in many contexts including this report, also refers to research with embryos.

It is interesting that fetal tissue research has produced one of the major medical breakthroughs of our time, the development of polio vaccine through the use of fetal cell lines in the s, but also some of greatest current controversy about the use of such cells for transplantation.

Fetal Tissue Research: FAQ

Ironically, in the wake of all the heightened focus on fetal tissue donation, Planned Parenthood officials report they have seen an uptick in the number of women obtaining abortion who request that the fetal tissue be donated to research.

Critics say positive outcomes cannot justify a practice that is itself immoral. Cells from umbilical cord blood have been used in some studies. Vaccines for diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox, whooping cough, tetanus, hepatitis A and rabies were also created using fetal cell cultures, and researchers are now using fetal cells to develop vaccines against other diseases, including Ebola, HIV and dengue fever.

The development of vaccines against polio, rubella, measles, chickenpox, adenovirus, rabies, and treatments for debilitating diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, cystic fibrosis, and hemophilia all involved fetal tissue. Among them were Sens.

Concurrently, the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act, governing fetal tissue research, was revised and submitted for ratification by the states. In an October open letter to Congress, 41 scientists called for the end to political interference with science and research: Letter from Jim Esquea to Sens.

Among these are provisions for informed consent and prohibiting physicians and researchers from altering the timing or method used to terminate the pregnancy solely for the purposes of obtaining the tissue.

Public debate about fetal research, however, has its roots in the development of policies governing human subjects research, a process that took center stage in when the abuses of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study were exposed and a panel was convened to report on this abuse.

The idea that it would be better to discard fetal tissue than use it to protect unborn babies makes little sense to me. Importance of Fetal Tissue Research Unlike embryonic stem cell research, which uses cells from days-old embryos created through in vitro fertilization, fetal tissue research uses tissue derived from induced abortion of pregnancies at or after the ninth week.

Fetal Tissue Research Fetal tissue research involves cells from dead fetuses that are harvested for the purpose of establishing cell lines or for use as transplantation material and other purposes.The sale of fetal tissue is illegal.

But if a patient consents, abortion clinics may donate fetal tissue for use in medical research.

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Federal law allows clinics to be reimbursed for costs “associated with the transportation, implantation, processing preservation, quality control, or storage of human fetal tissue” for research purposes. Sep 29,  · WebMD asked brain researchers Anita Bhattacharyya, PhD, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Jorge Busciglio, PhD, of the University of California-Irvine, about using fetal tissue in scientific research.

Defenders of the fetal tissue donation system argue that if the tissue from legal abortions were not used for lifesaving research, it would simply be. Fetal tissue has been used for research in the U.S. since the s, with bipartisan support from the Congress and funding from the National Institutes of Health.

Along. Aug 03,  · "No question fetal tissue remains an important research tool," said Sean Tipton of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Fetal cells have long been used in vaccine research, and are.

"No question fetal tissue remains an important research tool," said Sean Tipton of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Fetal cells have long been used in vaccine research, and are still used in toxicology studies.

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An introduction to the importance of fetal tissue research
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