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US to Review Fetal Tissue Research

The US Department of Health and Human Services is conducting a comprehensive review of human fetal tissue research, ScienceInsider reports. HHS says in a statement that it is evaluating whether research using fetal tissue is in compliance with applicable statutes and regulations and whether there is sufficient oversight of such research.

According to Stat News, the National Institutes of Health spent about $98 million on fetal tissue research in 2017 and that such tissue is used in studies of genetic disease, vaccine development, and more.

ScienceInsider notes that this review of fetal tissue research comes after 45 anti-abortion groups wrote to HHS Secretary Alex Azar to express that they were "shocked and dismayed" by a contract between the Food and Drug Administration and Advanced Bioscience Resource, which supplies fetal tissue. A few days later, it adds, 85 members of Congress sent a similar letter.

HHS says in its statement that it is not certain that the contract "included the appropriate protections" and terminated it. This then also sparked the wider review. HHS also says it will be examining whether there are "adequate alternatives" to using fetal tissue.