ISSCR releases statement opposing possible U.S. ban on federal funding for fetal tissue research

Written by Freya Leask

In a statement, the ISSCR highlighted the numerous discoveries made possible utilizing fetal tissue and the value this research has.

The International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR), the largest professional organization of stem cell researchers from around the world, opposed a provision of the U.S. House of Representatives Labor-HHS-Education bill that would ban federal funding for fetal tissue research in a recent statement. If enacted, this legislation would severely impede research that is necessary for the development of new treatments for a wide range of serious and incurable diseases. It would have a devastating effect on the future of biomedical advances and regenerative medicine.

“Research using human fetal tissue is invaluable to scientific and medical communities worldwide that study and work on human development and disease,” explained ISSCR President Hans Clevers (Utrecht University, Netherlands).

“It is crucial to understanding congenital defects in the heart and nervous system, and to learning how viruses like Zika affect human development, so that we can develop effective treatments.”

Fetal tissue research has led to the development of vaccines against polio, rubella, measles, chickenpox, adenovirus and rabies, as well as treatments for debilitating diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, cystic fibrosis and hemophilia. The ISSCR put together a portfolio of examples showing how the use of fetal tissue in biomedical research has led to therapies that have saved lives and ways in which it continues to be necessary for medical advances.

“As a society, we cannot afford to restrict research that provides valuable insights and continues to advance treatments for some of the world’s most intractable diseases,” concluded Clevers.

“A thoughtful statutory and ethical framework has been in place for decades that allows this research to take place; curtailing it now will delay new treatments and put at risk the health and lives of millions.”

Source: ISSCR press release