Trump’s NIH to spent $20 million “to develop or further refine ethical alternatives to fetal tissue research”

By Dave Andrusko

Still another reminder how important it is to have a pro-life President.

Pro-abortion groups are determined to “redeem” abortions by using tissue from the bodies of these babies in biomedical research. The Trump administration has worked assiduously to find and fund ethical alternatives.

On Monday the National Institutes of Health (NIH) released a Notice of Intent to publish new Funding Opportunity Announcements that invite applications to develop or further refine ethical alternatives to fetal tissue research. Over the next two years NIH will invest $20 million on these alternatives.

What specifically is the NIH seeking? The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) explained that NIH wants models that “closely mimic and can be used to accurately model human embryonic development or other aspects of human biology and that do not rely on the use of human fetal tissue obtained from elective abortions. … Research proposals may include using these models to understand human tissue development, function, and disease.”

When NIH explained the broad range of types of study applications that could be submitted, it illustrated just how many ethical alternatives there are to extracting fetal tissue. These “alternative models to the use of human fetal tissue in biomedical research” include

cell culture models using induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC), iPSC-derived organoids, or other three-dimensional culture systems. Studies may also include new approaches or advances on existing methods to significantly improve current approaches to recapitulate the human immune system.

But the Trump administration has been busy on other fronts as well.

In a story that appeared Friday in Science Magazine, Meredith Wadman reported

President Donald Trump’s administration has ordered scientists employed by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) to stop acquiring new human fetal tissue for experiments… The suspension, imposed this past September without a public announcement, came as the government launched a review of all fetal tissue research funded by the federal government.”

According to Wadman, more than $103 million was spent on fetal tissue research in fiscal 2018.

On November 30, seventy-four Members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to HHS asking for an HHS-wide moratorium on funding research that uses the body parts of aborted babies. They wrote

We urge HHS to end all complicity in research that uses aborted fetal tissue, beginning with this contract. We respectfully request that HHS immediately stops approving both intramural and extramural research applications that require aborted fetal tissue, and we ask the Department to create a timeline for reviewing all currently-funded research to ensure that it uses ethical research methods instead of aborted fetal tissue.

This followed a decision by the Trump administration to terminate a “one-year, $15,900 contract with Advanced Bioscience Resources to acquire human fetal tissue ‘for implantation into severely immune-compromised mice to create chimeric animals that have a human immune system,’” according to The Daily Signal.

Following that September decision, the FDA issued a statement:

After a recent review of a contract between Advanced Bioscience Resources Inc. and the Food and Drug Administration to provide human fetal tissue to develop testing protocols, HHS was not sufficiently assured that the contract included the appropriate protections applicable to fetal tissue research or met all other procurement requirements.

As a result, that contract has been terminated, and HHS is now conducting an audit of all acquisitions involving human fetal tissue to ensure conformity with procurement and human fetal tissue research laws and regulations.

As referenced above, there is a multiplicity of ethically acceptable alternatives to fetal tissue, as NRL News Today and NRL News have written about on many occasions. David Prentice explained last year that

Adult stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) have far outpaced fetal tissue (as well as embryonic stem cells) in their basic research uses. Adult stem cells are the only successful stem cell in clinical practice, now treating more than 70,000 patients a year. Organoids constructed from adult stem cells, cord blood stem cells and iPS cells now replicate normal organ development and function. There is no valid reason for continued use of the antiquated science of fetal tissue.