A new report published by the Guttmacher Institute states that research using fetal tissue may be endangered by last summer’s smear campaign against Planned Parenthood, according to a recent article by thenation.com.
Fetal tissue is often used in traumatic brain injury research, according to an article by Marek Molcanyi, MD PhD, Clinic of Neurosurgery; University of Cologne.
“Stem cell transplantation has been proposed for various indications like Parkinson and Huntington disease, … spinal cord injury … and traumatic brain injury (TBI),” Molcanyi explained in the article.
Scientists like Dr. Lawrence Goldstein at the University of California, San Diego, use fetal tissue for research on the brain and on spinal cord injury. The article on thenation.com says such scientific inquiry is increasingly threatened – often literally.
“We are cautious,” Goldstein says in the article. “We’ve raised physical security in our laboratory building.”
After an anti-abortion organization released videos portraying Planned Parenthood as callously haggling the price of aborted fetuses, thenation.com reports legislators have attempted to restrict research using such material, while scientists have found their work limited and riskier.
“Beyond the attacks on Planned Parenthood,” the report says, “the use of fetal tissue in research also is under direct attack.”
Fetal tissue has been used for scientific research since the 1930s. The tissue is derived from abortion because tissue from miscarriage is often not suitable for research,” according to the article.
Traumatic brain injury is just one of the many issues scientist might use fetal tissue to conduct further research on.
“Cell cultures from fetal tissue have been used to develop vaccines for measles, polio and tetanus, among other diseases. Scientists at Colorado State have been conducting HIV research using fetal tissue, while at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, cell culture derived from fetal tissue has been central to work on Hepatitis B and C,” the article reads. “The National Institutes of Health awarded grants for 164 research projects using fetal tissue in 2014, according to a survey byNature. Today, fetal tissue is being used in the development of vaccines against Ebola and HIV, the study of human development, and efforts to treat and cure conditions and diseases that afflict millions of Americans.”
Theresa Naluai-Cecchini, a scientist at the University of Washington told Mother Jones last October that the number of tissue donations had dropped dramatically. She worried that if the trend continued, “promising research would stop until a commercial alternative is found. The cost of research would increase dramatically, and new findings would take considerably longer.”
Some scientists have avoided talking to the media all-together, for fear of attacks.
Bills introduced on both the state and federal level would make it more difficult to donate tissue or use fetal tissue in research, according to the report. Some would ban fetal tissue research outright.
For more information, read the full article here.