(CNSNews.com) - The Department of Health and Human Services says it has granted a second 90-day extension to a contract it has with the University of California at San Francisco that requires UCSF to make “humanized mice.”
These creatures are made by implanting mice with human tissues taken from late-term aborted babies.
The HHS's multi-million-dollar contract with UCSF that requires the construction of these “humanized mice” creates a demand--driven by federal tax dollars--for tissue taken from late-term aborted babies. According to an estimate it has published on its website, the National Institutes of Health (which is a division of HHS) will spend $95 million this fiscal year alone on research that--like UCSF's "humanized mouse" contract--uses human fetal tissue.
Under the new 90-day extension, the contract—which the government calls “Humanized Mouse Models for HIV Therapeutics Development”--will run through June 5.
HHS also is still in the process of conducting the “comprehensive review” it announced last September “of all research involving fetal tissue.”
That review was initiated to ensure that all federally funded research using human fetal tissue is consistent “with statutes and regulations governing such research, and to ensure the adequacy of procedures and oversight of this research in light of the serious regulatory, moral, and ethical considerations involved.”
“The UCSF contract has been issued another extension,” HHS said on Friday in response to questions from CNSNews.com about the contract and the review.
“We will provide an update on the review once it has concluded and as appropriate,” HHS said.
As CNSNews.com first reported on Oct. 17, 2018, the National Institutes of Health, which is part of HHS, originally signed its “humanized mouse” contract with UCSF on Dec. 6, 2013. The contract was for a one-year period and gave the government the option of renewing it for up to six additional one-year periods through Dec. 5, 2020.
According to contract information published on the Federal Procurement Data System, the new three-month extension will pay UCSF $521,082—bringing the total payments the federal government has made to UCSF for this contract to $10,596,960.
If the government continues renewing the contract through Dec. 5, 2020, HHS would end up paying UCSF a total of $13,799,501.
The contract specifically requires researchers at UCSF to make two different types of “humanized mice” both of which are “engrafted with human fetal liver and thymus.”
The “Statement of Work” in the original contract solicitation said that the contractor would be required to make one “cohort” of “up to 50” mice per month of the first type of humanized mouse and another cohort of “up to 40” mice per month of the second type. The statement said each of these two cohorts of “humanized mice” should be made “with tissue from a single donor”—meaning a single aborted baby.
The Statement of Work for the “Humanized Mouse Models for HIV Therapeutics Development” contract says the contractor shall make one “cohort” per month of two types of humanized mice. Each of these (one numbering up to 50 mice and the other up to 40) will be made with human fetal thymus and liver tissue taken from “a single donor.”
The Statement of Work for this federal contract specifically charged the contractor with the obligation to “[o]btain the necessary human fetal tissues for use under the contract.”
An article published in the Jan. 12, 2016 issue of Stem Cell Reports, which discussed research funded by the contract, described humanized mice that were created by engrafting them with human fetal bone marrow, liver and thymus taken from babies who were 20-to-24 weeks in gestational age.
Another article discussing research under the contract was published in the Feb. 27, 2017 issue of Pathogens. This article described another type of humanized mouse that was engrafted with “fetal gut tissues” taken from babies at 18-to-24 weeks in gestational age.
On Dec. 4, 2018, one day before the contract’s most recent one-year extension was set to expire, HHS gave UCSF an initial 90-day extension on the contract—rather than a full one-year extension. That 90-day extension was set to expire on March 5. But with the new 90-day extension signed on Feb. 19, the contract is now set to run through June 5.
On Dec. 5, 2018, HHS published a statement in response to a story that the Washington Post published about the UCSF contract that cited an unnamed “virologist” and an unnamed “university spokeswoman” in reporting that the NIH had informed the contract’s principal investigator that the government was ending the contract.
“According to the virologist, the principal investigator was told in a telephone conversation with an NIH employee last Wednesday that the AIDS division was exercising its discretion to discontinue the contract,” the Post reported then.
“A university spokeswoman, speaking on condition of anonymity because she had no authorization to discuss the matter, confirmed the university was informed last week the contract was not being extended,” the Post said.
But HHS refuted this story.
“No decision has been made on the extension of a University of California San Francisco contract with the NIH regarding research involving fetal tissue,” HHS said in a Dec. 5 statement responding to the Post’s report.
“A decision will be made when the contract has been reviewed, pursuant to the ongoing audit/review process,” the HHS statement said.
HHS also released at that time the full text of a statement by HHS Spokesperson Caitlin Oakley that HHS said it had given to the Post. Oakley’s statement said:
“In September, HHS issued a statement announcing an audit would be conducted of all acquisitions involving human fetal tissue to ensure conformity with procurement and human fetal tissue research laws and regulations. In addition, HHS has initiated a comprehensive review of all research involving fetal tissue to ensure consistency with statutes and regulations governing such research, and to ensure the adequacy of procedures and oversight of this research in light of the serious considerations involved. Regarding the extension on the UC San Francisco contract, no final decision has been made. A decision will be made when the contract has been reviewed, pursuant to the ongoing audit/review process. There is a provision for continuity of work while the contract is being reviewed.”
On Jan. 10, CNSNews.com published a story about the initial 90-day extension that HHS had granted UCSF’s humanized mouse contract on Dec. 5.
“The contract remains on the 90-day extension to ensure continuity of service until the audit is completed and a final decision can be made about the contract,” the NIH said in response to questions from CNSNews.com at that time.
“During the 90-day extension,” the NIH said then, “the NIH Contracting Officer Representative can instruct UCSF to produce new mouse cohorts, obtain or engraft new fetal tissue, and/or start new in vitro or humanized mouse studies that are not already planned, if deemed scientifically necessary.”