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Proposed Bill Underscores Need to Study Male, Female Cells

A new bill sponsored by US Representatives Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) and Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) would require studies to include both male and female cells, tissues, and animals, the Huffington Post reports.

"I was shocked that something as basic as treating men and women the same had often been overlooked in clinical trials," Cooper tells Sam Levine at HuffPo.

Clinical studies funded by the US National Institutes of Health are required to include both men and women, and the agency recently announced that preclinical studies would soon be required to include both male and female cells, tissues, and animals, though not necessarily an equal number of each. The focus previously had been on male cells, tissues, and animals as some researchers worried that estrous cycle fluctuations could influence their findings, a concern that some studies have cast doubt upon.

At the time of the NIH announcement, the New York Times noted that that focus has led to a better understanding of how drugs and diseases affect men, and that the doses of some drugs like the sleeping pill Ambien (zolpidem) had to be altered for women after they were on the market.

Beginning in October, NIH will start to implement policies to get grant applicants to report the breakdown of the number of male and female cells, tissues, or animals being used in their studies.

This bill, Cooper says, is "designed to make sure the NIH keeps its word."