By Amy Goldstein and Lenny Bernstein
The Trump administration has shut down at least one government-run study that uses fetal tissue implanted into mice even before federal health officials reach a decision on whether to continue such research,which is opposed by anti-abortion groups.
A senior scientist at a National Institutes of Health laboratory in Montana told colleagues that the Health and Human Services Department "has directed me to discontinue procuring fetal tissue" from a firm that is the only available source,according to an email he sent to a collaborator in late September.
"This effectively stops all of our research to discover a cure for HIV," the researcher wrote.
The research disruptions might extend to a handful of other labs using fetal tissue,all of which are part of the NIH,rather than outside research institutions operating on NIH grants,according to an individual familiar with the situation.
The shutdown of the HIV research at the federal lab in Montana,first reported in the journal Science,was never disclosed publicly by government officials,他们禁止受影响的研究人员讨论发生的事情。But colleagues say they are incensed by the action,which has fanned a controversy that pits the biomedical research community against anti-abortion activists and other social conservatives pressing the administration to stop the flow of federal grants and contracts for work involving fetal tissue.这种组织来自选择性流产。
"This is scientific censorship of the worst kind," said Warner Greene,who was director of the Gladstone Institute of Virology and Immunology for a quarter-century since its founding in 1991 and now runs an HIV research lab there.He he was poised to collaborate with the Montana researcher,Kim Hasenkrug,on a new experiment that has been thwarted.
"You spend your life trying to do good experiments and organize your science carefully," Greene said,”突然间,华盛顿的一些政客一时兴起，D.C.,they remove a critical piece of your scientific armamentarium."
哈森克鲁格无法置评。Greene and Irving Weissman,a pioneer in stem cell research at Stanford University,said government officials imposed a gag order on him.
An NIH spokeswoman said that when the HHS began its review of fetal tissue in September,the NIH put in place a "pause" in the procurement of that kind of tissue.Researchers were instructed to notify top officials if they needed more.
The spokeswoman said NIH is investigating why that didn't happen with Hasenkrug's research.
News of the halted study broadens the actions the administration is known to have taken to obstruct such research.In late September,the Department of Health and Human Services announced the termination of a Food and Drug Administration contract with a California firm,Advanced Bioscience Resources,and said it was conducting an "audit" of whether to keep funding fetal tissue research.An FDA notice in the summer of the pending contract called ABR "the only company in the U.年代。capable of supplying tissues suitable for (humanized mouse) research."
Then,在过去的两周里，a principal investigator at an academic laboratory in San Francisco was first told that a seven-year NIH contract was not being extended for its next year as usual.The university then received revised information that the lab was getting 90 days of funding,with the rest uncertain.旧金山加利福尼亚大学的实验室是开发预防和治疗HIV的新药的关键所在。using mice implanted with human fetal tissue to run the first animal tests of chemical compounds developed by pharmaceutical companies and other academic scientists that seem promising in lab dishes.
Last week,卫生和公众服务部和国家卫生研究院的官员否认他们最初告诉加州大学旧金山分校的实验室合同即将终止。The officials said that no decision would be made until the HHS completes the audit of the government's fetal tissue funding.The reconsideration is focused on examining whether adequate alternatives exist — as fetal tissue opponents contend and researchers dispute.
官员们准备将使用胎儿组织的其他外部实验室延长90天，在审计完成之前，这些实验室的赠款或合同将被更新。according to an individual familiar with the research stoppage.
Hasenkrug,蒙大拿州的研究人员，重点关注洛基山实验室的艾滋病毒和其他持久性病毒，which is part of NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.据同事们说，he received a note from John McGowan,an NIAID deputy director,通知他研究用胎儿组织的供应正在停止。The note indicated that officials above McGowan had made the decision;it did not include specifics.
The money for Hasenkrug's work comes from NIH's internal — or "intramural" — funds and is unrelated to the FDA contract that officials previously acknowledged they cut off,the colleagues said.
Greene,the Gladstone researcher,said he and Hasenkrug have collaborated for several years and have used humanized mice to help demonstrate how T cells — immune cells that are diminished in HIV-infected people — die.Greene said their labs were about to begin an experiment that would have been the first animal tests of an emerging theory about why HIV takes hold in the human body so quickly.Humanized mice are created by implanting fetal thymus tissue that can develop a humanlike immune system and be infected with HIV.
"The mice were ready," Green said."Just as we'd shipped antibody [to Montana],we were ready to go,and boom … the rug was pulled out from underneath us."
Weissman,the Stanford researcher,said he understood that the breeder of the mice used in such research,Taconic Biosciences,has been told to halt production.