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Wed, Dec 09
The truth about fetal tissue research
Every month, Lishan Su receives a small test tube on ice from a company in California. In it is a piece of liver from a human fetus aborted at between 14 and 19 weeks of pregnancy.
Su and his staff at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill carefully grind the liver, centrifuge it and then extract and purify liver- and blood-forming stem cells. They inject the cells into the livers of newborn mice, and allow those mice to mature. The resulting animals are the only ‘humanized’ mice with both functioning human liver and immune cells and, for Su, they are invaluable in his work on hepatitis B and C, allowing him to probe how the viruses evade the human immune system and cause chronic liver diseases.