The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced that it will allocate $20 million over two years to research alternatives to human foetal tissue. The use of these human foetuses for research is not illegal in the USA, but it is highly controversial since this lucrative trade comes from abortion clinics. In a statement issued on Monday, the NIH announced that it was embarking on a major research effort to “develop and/or further refine human tissue models that closely mimic and can be used to faithfully model human embryonic development or other aspects of human biology, for example, the human immune system, that do not rely on the use of human foetal tissue obtained from elective abortions”.

Since September 2018, the 6,000 American researchers funded by the NIH have been prohibited from purchasing human foetal tissue. The contract between the United States Department of Health and Human Services HHS and Advanced Bioscience Resources – the main supplier of aborted foetuses in the USA – was terminated because “it was not sufficiently assured that the contract included the appropriate protections applicable to foetal tissue research”. The HHS has launched a comprehensive review of human foetal tissue research and has imposed a total freeze on procurement until the end of the review. The project to develop effective alternatives is still in its infancy. Procurement has been halted, but foetal research has not been banned. Researchers do not yet know whether the HHS, at the end of the review, will decide to suspend the research until alternatives are available.

Sources: TIME, Jamie Ducharme (11/12/2018)