Trump Administration Scrutinizes Fetal Tissue Research
The Trump administration in September launched a comprehensive review of all research involving human fetal tissue, which has helped researchers make headway in studies of macular degeneration and infectious diseases like HIV and the Zika virus.
The review followed pressure from antiabortion groups like the Susan B. Anthony List as well as members of Congress in recent months to end federal support for the research. Although university and research groups have said there appears to be a genuine interest in getting the science right at the Department of Health and Human Services, the agency has taken several steps recently to limit ongoing research and promote alternatives to fetal tissue that scientists say aren't viable.
“The pro-life community that’s pressuring the Trump administration is making claims that stem cells of various types can replace fetal tissue, and that’s scientifically untrue,” said Larry Goldstein, PhD, a neuroscientist at the University of California, San Diego. “As long as HHS relies on good, solid facts from knowledgeable sources, we welcome review.”
Fluorescent Molecular Sensor to Detect Metastatic Cancer Cells
Researchers at UC San Diego School of Medicine have developed a molecular sensor that can spot metastatic cancer cells and measure how likely they’re to spread through the body.
“Although there are many ways to detect metastasis once it has occurred, there has been nothing available to ‘see’ or ‘measure’ the potential of a tumor cell to metastasize in the future,” said Pradipta Ghosh, MD, UC San Diego School of Medicine professor and director of the university’s Center for Network Medicine and senior author of a new study appearing in journal iScience.
UC San Diego Researchers Develop Sensors to Detect and Measure Cancer’s Ability to Spread
The spread of invasive cancer cells from a tumor’s original site to distant parts of the body is known as metastasis. It is the leading cause of death in people with cancer. In a paper published online in iScience , University of California San Diego School of Medicine researchers reported engineering sensors that can detect and measure the metastatic potential of single cancer cells.
tumor cell showing metastasis
“Cancer would not be so devastating if it did not metastasize,” said Pradipta Ghosh, MD, professor in the UC San Diego School of Medicine departments of Medicine and Cellular and Molecular Medicine, director of the Center for Network Medicine and senior study author.
Scientists Re-create Baby Brain Readings in a Dish
Lab-grown "mini-brains" have, for the first time, produced human-like brain waves, and appeared to do so spontaneously. The electric patterns from in the mini-brains showed a resemblance to what's seen in premature babies.
The lab brains belong to a type known scientifically as "organoids," which are grown as 3D cultures of embryonic stem cells. Such cultures also have been used to create miniature versions of eyes, guts, livers, kidney, prostates, and several other organs. But the human brain is a different beast.
“It’s a very grey zone in this stage," says neuroscientist Alysson Muotri, PhD of the University of California, San Diego in a interview with the journal Nature, "and I don’t think anyone has a clear view of the potential of this.” Muotri says he would consider canceling the project if the mini-brains began to show signs of consciousness, although that is a long way from their current state.
HHS talks to anti-abortion groups, scientists as it weighs canceling fetal tissue research
The Trump administration is continuing to weigh plans to discontinue more than $100 million in research projects that use fetal tissue, alarming scientists and some HHS officials while invigorating the president’s supporters in the anti-abortion community.
Anti-abortion groups have decried HHS' use of fetal tissue after videos surfaced in 2015 purportedly showing Planned Parenthood officials profiting from the sale of the tissue. Planned Parenthood said the videos were edited to be intentionally misleading and a Texas grand jury subsequently cleared the organization of any wrongdoing.
Scientists have blasted the Trump administration's review, warning that canceling the contracts would be a setback for medical research. "It will slow some projects down that are vital for sick Americans," said Larry Goldstein, PhD, the director of UC San Diego’s stem cell program.