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Trump administration ‘shuts down study into HIV cure’

The US government has prevented scientists from acquiring new fetal tissue after launching a review in its use in federally-funded programmes.

By Will Stroude

The Trump adminstration has shut down a pioneering study which hoped to ‘find a cure for HIV’ after preventing scientists from getting acccess to the fetal tissue used in their experiments.

The US Health and Human Services Department (HHS) quietly ordered scientists employed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to stop acquiring new fetal tissue in September, Science reports.

The decision has prevented continued research into the spread of HIV at the Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Hamilton, Montana, where scientists were researching the spread of the virus in the human body by using mice and discarded fetal tissue from voluntary abortions.

The method is opposed by anti-abortion campaigners, and the government’s decision comes as it launches a review into its use in federally-funded programmes.

A senior scientist at the affected NIH lab in Montana said the policy “effectively stops all of our research to discover a cure for HIV”.

Warner Greene, Director of the Gladstone Center for HIV Cure Research in San Francisco, which was due to collaborate with the Montana lab on the study, said: “We were all poised to go and then the bombshell was dropped.”

“The decision completely knocked our collaboration off the rails. We were devastated.”

An NIH spokeswoman confirmed to IOL that a “pause” had been placed on acquiring fetal tissue while the review takes place, and that researchers had bee instructed to nofity top officials if they needed more.

The spokeswoman added that the NIH was investigating why this hadn’t taken place in the case of the Montana lab.