Why aborted tissue is an unreliable source to produce human cell lines for bio-manufacturing?

By Alan Moy, MD

Human cell lines from past abortions are routinely used by the biopharmaceutical industry to manufacture vaccines, gene therapy, biologics and cell therapy. However, there is a push to use this pandemic to reverse the federal ban on using fresh aborted fetal tissue. Some scientists are interested in reversing this ban because there are shortcomings in the morally illicit cell lines created decades ago based on the following reasons: (1) the cell line stockpiles are declining; (2) the cells express abnormal chromosomes; (3) the cells are contaminated with viral proteins; (4) the cells lost the ability to make native human proteins; and (5) cells can now be genetically modified by CRISPR. Thus, some scientists would like to create new human cell lines from aborted fetal tissue. This is what scientists in China have already accomplished.(https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25803132). There has been an unwritten scientific rule that fetal tissue represents the best starting tissue to produce cell lines since prior vaccines were created from past abortion. This is a false myth for the following reasons. Human cell lines must be reliable and reproducible. The starting tissue must be derived from confirmed healthy donors. The cell lines will ultimately need to be replaced. The donated human tissue must be reproducible and of high quality. These requirements cannot be achieved from abortions. Medical records from abortions are scarce, inadequate and incomplete. It is impossible to obtain reproducible and reliable tissue. In contrast, the Institute uses adult stem cells from cord blood and placenta. There are over 1 million annual newborn deliveries. Accurate medical records can be obtained. The tissue is reproducible. The Institute developed methods to produce high quality immortalized adult stem cells from these tissues where new cell lines can be produced in a matter of few weeks. One of our stem cells can produce up to 1000 trillion cells! Newborn stem cells are rarely contaminated with pathogens. Medical records are accurate and tissue is always obtained with proper informed consent. Thus, it is not only unnecessary to create human cell lines from abortion, but it is a poor choice.

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