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Why We Still Need Fetal-Tissue Research

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“But as long as the dialogue about the science and the medical potential of fetal research is entwined in the political debate over abortion, that respect — and the lives that can potentially be saved from these studies — will be hard to come by.” Two sting videos that claim to implicate Planned Parenthood in the illegal practice to selling fetal tissue for a profit prompted a Congressional investigation of the organization. But it doesn’t mean that research on fetal tissue is wrong. Or that it should be stopped. The first video released in mid-July that was secretly made by the Center for Medical Progress, a group that includes well known anti-abortion activists, centered around one question: What happens to the fetuses that result from abortions performed at Planned Parenthood? A second surreptitiously filmed video by the same group was released Tuesday. Its central question: Whether Planned Parenthood profits from the sale of such tissue. (The group insists it does not.) Fetal tissue is valuable for medical research; the National Institutes of Health spent $76 million on fetal research in 2014, and fetal tissue has contributed to vaccines for polio, rubella and chicken pox. While recent efforts to transplant fetal tissue to treat conditions like Parkinson’s haven’t been as consistently successful, it’s still critical to scientific progress. READ MORE: TIME

Research On Fetal Tissue Draws Renewed Political, Scientific Scrutiny

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“The fetal cells are vital at this time because, to our knowledge, they have the best properties for the kinds of experiments that we need to do.” Larry Goldstein University of California, San Diego
Larry Goldstein is trying to find drugs to treat Alzheimer’s disease. A biologist in cellular and molecular medicine at the University of California, San Diego, Goldstein also just started testing something he hopes will enable paralyzed people to walk again. For both lines of research, he’s using cells from aborted fetuses. “The fetal cells are vital at this time because, to our knowledge, they have the best properties for the kinds of experiments that we need to do,” Goldstein says. Research involving fetal tissue has come under renewed public scrutiny recently because of a series of videos involving the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The president of the organization, Cecile Richards, is slated to testify before a House committee Tuesday, even as some members of Congress try to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood, and some states try to restrict research involving fetal tissue. READ MORE / LISTEN: NPR

Efficacy of fetal stem cells in Duchenne muscular dystrophy therapy

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Among the stem cell population, fetal stem cells (FSCs) have also been used in neurological diseases. These cells are more specialized compared to embryonic stem cells, but at the same time have high proliferative potential and are effectively being used in a number of diseases, including neurological ones, without the need for human leukocyte antigen (HLA) matching. Dove Press Journal of Neurorestoratology
Abstract:The absence of effective treatment methods for Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) calls for new therapeutic approaches. One of the promising treatment methods for DMD is stem cell therapy. This study demonstrates the impact of fetal stem cells (FSCs) on functional capacity and life quality of DMD patients and the ability of FSCs to prevent DMD-related complications in order to inhibit the disease progression. FSC therapy substantially improves functional capacity, life quality, left ventricular ejection fraction, and forced vital capacity of the lungs of DMD patients; this was confirmed by comparison of neurological, laboratory (aspartate aminotransferase, alanine aminotransferase, creatine phosphokinase, and lactate dehydrogenase), and morphofunctional findings (left ventricular ejection fraction and forced vital capacity) in DMD patients before the treatment, and 6 and 12 months after the FSC treatment. READ MORE: DOVE PRESS

Fetal stem cells and the sports heroes they revitalized

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“We don’t use the word ‘fetal’ too much” Maynard Howe CEO, Stemedica Cell Technologies of San Diego
TIJUANA, Mexico — John Brodie decided he had nothing to lose. So did Gordie Howe, who was losing his will to live. After each suffered massive strokes, both sports heroes barely could walk, talk or take care of themselves. “He was definitely close to giving up hope,” said Howe’s son, Murray. So they tried something new. They left the United States to receive experimental treatments that included stem cell injections derived from the brain tissue of a single aborted human fetus. Both men now can walk, exercise and communicate better, seemingly sparked back to life after reaching the precipice of death. READ MORE: USA TODAY

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