History, Facts & Legal Definition of Fetal Tissue Research
Although fetal tissue research has led to medical advances, including the development of the polio and rubella vaccines in the 1950s, it has also generated controversy because of its use of fetuses from elective abortions. Fetal tissue research has been subject to strict government regulation and periodic moratoriums on federal funding. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Revitalization Act of 1993 (Pub. L. No. 103-43 [42 U.S.C.A. §§ 289g-1, -2]) regulates many aspects of fetal tissue research.
Fetal tissue research has been conducted in the United States since the middle of the twentieth century. Its practice became more common as the amount of biomedical research increased and as restrictions on the availability of abortion decreased. Research on fetal tissue led to significant advances in the scientific understanding of fetal development and in the diagnosis and treatment of fetal diseases and defects, including the development of amniocentesis as a diagnostic tool. It also played a role in advancing the scientific understanding of cancer, immunology, and transplantation.
Because fetal tissue grows more rapidly, is more flexible than other human tissue, and is less likely to be rejected by the immune system, it has also been used to treat diseases through transplantation. Fetal tissue transplantation usually involves the injection of fetal cells into a diseased organ such as the brain or pancreas. Many scientists believe that fetal tissue transplantation will lead to significant new developments in medical science. Researchers have already had limited success in using fetal tissue transplants to treat patients with Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and other illnesses. Although most medical ethicists agree that these new procedures hold great promise, they warn that the use of fetal tissue must be strictly regulated in order to avoid ethical abuses.
MADISON (WKOW) — A State Assembly Committee plans to vote on a controversial bill banning the sale and use of aborted fetal tissue on September 9.
It is a bill many researchers at the UW School of Medicine are worried about, not only because it would criminalize the use of such tissue, but also because it could stop their work.
27 News got an inside look Friday at some of the research that would be at risk if the bill becomes law.
The Cardiovascular Research Center is just one of the labs at the Wisconsin Institutes for Medical Research where Petri dishes full of cells derived from fetal tissue are used for potentially life-saving studies.
Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP)
PUBLIC LAW 103-43; JUNE 10, 1993
NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH REVITALIZATION ACT OF 1993
TITLE I - GENERAL PROVISIONS REGARDING TITLE IV
of PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE ACT
Subtitle A - Research Freedom
PART II - RESEARCH ON TRANSPLANTATION OF FETAL TISSUE
SEC. 111. ESTABLISHMENT OF AUTHORITIES./blockquote>