Fetal Tissue Research Is Essential for Scientific Discovery, Improving Health
ecades after the U.S. Congress repeatedly reaffirmed its support for publicly funded fetal tissue research1, investigators find themselves facing efforts by this same body2 to prevent this kind of research. At issue is whether fetal tissue research continues to be necessary, whether it has the potential to contribute to new therapies, and whether sufficient safeguards are in place for the research to occur ethically.
The answer to each of those is an unequivocal “yes.” Fetal tissue has been essential in research used to develop therapies that have saved millions of lives, and it continues to be necessary for the future of medicine.
The tissue used in this research would otherwise be discarded, and safeguards have been in place for decades to ensure that the tissue is obtained and used ethically.
Why is fetal tissue so important3? It is quite different from adult tissue. It represents a specific, formative period of human development. The cells that form it have unique properties that often cannot be replaced by other cell types. These cells are more flexible and less specialized than cells from adult tissue, easier to grow, and more adaptable to new environments.