Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh (USA) have used the scalp of babies aborted in a provoked way from 18 to 20 weeks, to graft it on the back of live mice. The aim is to investigate diseases and immune responses in «humanized» mice and rats. After doing so, the rodents developed human skin and hair.
According to the article, the researchers also removed some internal organs from the babies and diced them small enough to inject into the rodents. The results have been published by the scientists who have developed the study, in the prestigious journal Nature (https://www.nature.com/
articles/s41598-020-71548-z), and the funding for this experiment comes from US tax revenue generated through the National Institute of Health (NIH).
In our opinion, this is one more attempt to resort to the humanization of certain research animals, under the pretext of achieving certain scientific advances. As we have published on other occasions, there are several experiences aimed at obtaining human organs or tissues in animals. (https://www.
There are two bioethical difficulties in this type of trial: The first and most serious is the use of fetal cells from induced abortions as research material, a practice that would indirectly try to legitimize abortion.
On the occasion of the research and production of certain vaccines for Covid-19 that have used cells from induced abortions, we have published studies that clarify the ethical difficulties of these processes (https://www.
A second bioethical aspect with great controversy, related to this attempt at humanization of laboratory animals, is the impossibility of ensuring that this humanization is restricted exclusively to the tissues of interest and that human cells do not colonize other unwanted tissues of the animal among which could be your own brain.
Even if this is not the case, the use of human cells from aborted fetuses must once again be denounced as a utilitarian attempt to legitimize these abortions.
Today there are alternatives to the use of human fetal cells for these experiments that would not present ethical difficulties.
* See biological status of the human embryo.
Cristina Castillo placeholder image
Life Sciences Institute