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US National Institutes of Health researchers were told in September that they could not obtain new human fetal tissue while the Department of Health and Human Services conducts its review of fetal tissue research, ScienceInsider reports. It notes that this order affects at least two intramural NIH labs, including one in Montana that uses mice with humanized immune systems to study HIV.

In September, HHS announced that it was going to be reviewing human fetal tissue research to ensure it was in compliance with applicable statutes and regulations and had sufficient oversight. That move came after a number of anti-abortion groups wrote to HHS Secretary Alex Azar to express their concern about a contract, since terminated, between the Food and Drug Administration and Advanced Bioscience Resource, a company that supplies fetal tissue. HHS announced last month that it was beginning "listening sessions."

"This is scientific censorship of the worst kind," Warner Greene from the Gladstone Institute of Virology and Immunology tells the Washington Post. The Post adds that he was to collaborate with Kim Hasenkrug from NIH's Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Montana when the new directive came through. "We were ready to go, and boom . . . the rug was pulled out from underneath us," Greene says.

NIH tells ScienceInsider that research with tissue on hand could go forward and that intramural investigators were asked to notify it if additional procurement was needed, and that it is looking into why that did not occur in this case.