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Fetal Tissue Research Curbed in US

The Trump Administration announced that it is limiting federal funding of fetal tissue research by ending such intramural research at the National Institutes of Health, the New York Times reports.

"Promoting the dignity of human life from conception to natural death is one of the very top priorities of President Trump's administration," the US Department of Health and Human Services says in a statement.

Last September, HHS launched a review of human fetal tissue research to determine whether it complied with applicable statutes and regulations and whether it was subject to sufficient oversight. That review came on the heels of 45 anti-abortion groups — and then a number of members of Congress — writing to HHS Secretary Alex Azar to express their disapproval of a contract between the Food and Drug Administration and Advanced Bioscience Resource, a supplier of fetal tissue from abortions. HHS notes in its statement that it terminated that contract in September.

The Times reports that HHS has now also ended a contract with the University of California, San Francisco. The Associated Press notes that that ends a 30-year partnership in which UCSF relied on using human fetal tissue to develop humanized mice for HIV research.

"We believe this decision to be politically motivated, shortsighted, and not based on sound science," UCSF's chancellor, Sam Hawgood, says in a message to the UCSF campus.

The AP notes that Francis Collins, the NIH director, noted in December that "there's strong evidence that scientific benefits come from fetal tissue research" and that it would be a "mainstay" for certain types of research.

Other university research projects using fetal tissue won't be immediately affected, the AP says, but it notes that new projects and projects seeking renewal will be subject to review.