(CNSNews.com) – Regeneron founder, president, and CEO Leonard Schleifer told CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday that the experimental treatment his company manufactures, which was used to treat President Donald Trump for COVID-19, was not manufactured using fetal stem cells.
“I want to ask you something specific to how your drug was developed. According to your company, the antibodies in it were developed using cells that were derived from fetal tissue, a cell line known as 293T. Those were harvested from the kidney tissue of an aborted fetus,” host Margaret Brennan said.
“There are also vaccine makers using this cell line, but the Trump administration last year has suspended federal funding for research projects that involve fetal tissue from abortions. Should the resident and the administration reconsider it, given that this breakthrough was possible using those kind of cells?” she asked.
“Let me be very clear, our drug is not manufactured using fetal cells. That's not the way you make the product,” Schleifer said.
BRENNAN: I understand that, developed, but not--
SCHLEIFER: It's just-- so let's not-- We shouldn't exaggerate the situation. This--
BRENNAN: I'm not. I'm reading what your company said, which was it was developed using it.
SCHLEIFER: Yeah. I wasn't suggesting you are. I'm just saying we as a society - and it's not used to manufacture the product. It was-- it's a standard cell line that was derived over 50 years ago, and so it's used as a research tool. Where that research should be done, that's a good debate to have, but it's probably kind of the debate we need to have right now.
BRENNAN: Okay. Who should be getting this drug in terms of how you think it should be used? If-- is it a prophylactic? Should it be given to diabetics, asthmatics, pregnant people?
SCHLEIFER: Right. Those are great questions, Margaret. It can be used, we think, as a prophylactic. We're doing a trial to see whether or not if you live in the household of somebody who's got it, whether it would stop you from getting it, and that would be very important evidence that we hope to get in the not too distant future. Then we might think about if somebody in the nursing home gets it. We-- maybe--we can treat the other people in the nursing home. If people who are very sick are exposed to people, people who don't have good immune systems.