Trump admin ends another ‘humanized mice’ contract

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Enlarge Image iStock

The Trump administration announced Wednesday that it would cancel immediately federal funding for research at the University of California San Francisco using human fetal tissue from abortions, weighing in again on a charged issue fraught with scientific and moral implications.

Yet the Trump administration is ending the medical research by government scientists using human fetal tissue.

Scientists were incensed."I think it's ultimately a awful, nonsensical policy", said Larry Goldstein, distinguished professor in the University of California San Diego's department of cellular and molecular medicine, who has advised scientific groups that use fetal tissue.

Pro-life groups welcomed the move by the administration, with Family Research Council President Tony Perkins calling it "another step by the Trump administration in the march to restore the sanctity of all human life in America".

In December 2018, NIH announced a $20 million funding opportunity for research to develop, demonstrate, and validate experimental models that do not rely on human fetal tissue from elective abortions.

In December, the National Institutes of Health informed a principal investigator at one of those labs - at UCSF - that it was withholding the next $2 million annual installment of a multiyear contract that is the lab's only source of funding. Its taxpayer-funded research included a $13 million contract to supply 90 mice injected with aborted baby cells each month. It emphasized it complied with all federal and state laws and exercised appropriate oversight in the collection of the parts.

"The efforts by the administration to impede this work will undermine scientific discovery and the ability to find effective treatments for serious and life-threatening disease", UCSF said.

Wednesday's announcement triggered an outpouring of praise by leading antiabortion leaders. An ethics panel will review outstanding bids from grant applicants in light of the new policy.

"It fits inside the wider context of the president's pro-life agenda since he was sworn into office, So you've seen a consistent pattern of pro-life-focused decisions and policy decisions from the president over the last two and a half years", the official told Fox.

The announcement was applauded by anti-abortion advocates, including Susan B. Anthony's List President Marjorie Dannenfelser, who called it a "major pro-life victory". "Intramural research that requires new acquisition of fetal tissue from elective abortions will not be conducted".

Wednesday's announcement turns on its head an assurance to scientists late previous year at an invitation-only NIH workshop on fetal tissue research.

At stake is critical federal funding for research into diseases that range from HIV to cancer to Zika, vaccine production and treatment for illnesses such as Parkinson's disease. "Ending this practice is ethically, scientifically, and morally right, especially as we've learned that fetal remains are not needed for research".

Between 2018 and 2019, a total of 109 NIH grants for research involving fetal tissue were active, according to's analysis of the agency's RePORT database. "Most Americans do not want their tax dollars creating a marketplace for aborted baby body parts which are then implanted into mice and used for experimentation". "This type of research involves the gross violation of basic human rights and certainly the government has no business funding it".

Critics argue that modern science has alternatives to replace fetal tissue in the laboratory, such as using tissue from infants who undergo heart surgery or stem cells that grow into organ-like clumps in lab dishes.

The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has championed several policies to restrict abortion both in the United States and overseas.