ISSCR issues statement opposing restriction of fetal tissue research

Written by RegMedNet

The International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) has issued a statement opposing a new U.S. Health and Human Services policy to halt funding of fetal tissue-based research that is conducted by the National Institutes of Health.

The International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR; IL, USA) has issued a statement opposing the recent restriction on research using fetal tissue imposed on the National Institutes of Health (MD, USA) and related research programs. The policy will eliminate federal funding for this research, which has previously enjoyed public support.

In a statement, ISSCR President Doug Melton commented:

“These new restrictions have no scientific or ethical basis and will roll back decades of consensus in the U.S., delaying the development of new medical treatments. The regulatory and legal framework in the U.S. for overseeing fetal tissue research was carefully developed with input from the public, ethicists, policymakers, and scientists, and ensures rigorous oversight, including that the tissue is obtained legally and with donor consent.

“Today, fetal tissue is still making an impact, with clinical trials underway using cells from fetal tissue to treat conditions including Parkinson’s disease, ALS, and spinal cord injury. Fetal tissue is also being used to understand and to develop potential treatments for major global health problems such as Zika virus and HIV/AIDS. The elimination of long-standing federal funding will delay this critical research and set back the development of potential therapies for these and other infectious diseases.

“With these new arbitrary restrictions on research, the United States is ceding its role as the global leader in the development of cellular therapies and regenerative medicine. Americans will now wait for life-saving therapies to be developed in Europe, Asia, and other parts of the world.”

The President of the University of California, Janet Napolitano, also condemned the decision, explaining “The Trump administration dealt a blow today to scientific discovery and medical advancement. Fetal tissue research has helped find cures for millions of Americans who suffer from debilitating diseases, while improving the quality of life for others. It has fundamentally changed the practice of medicine – including advances in polio, measles and chickenpox vaccines – as well as treatments for Parkinson’s and rheumatoid arthritis, and cutting-edge research on HIV and Alzheimer’s disease.

“The importance of fetal tissue research cannot be overstated, and today’s action is a step backward for science.”