Judicial Watch announced today it received 165 pages of records from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) showing the FDA between 2012 and 2018 entered into 8 contracts worth $96,370 with Advanced Bioscience Resources (ABR) to acquire “fresh and never frozen” tissue from 1st and 2nd trimester aborted fetuses for use in creating “humanized mice” for ongoing research.
ABR is a non-profit firm which has been the subject of criminal referrals from House and Senate committees investigating whether Planned Parenthood or any other entity was illegally profiting from the handling of fetal tissue from aborted babies.
Federal law regulates the purchase and acceptance of human fetal tissue for research purposes. It is unlawful to knowingly transfer fetal tissue for profit.
Judicial Watch filed the lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department Health and Human Services (No. 1:19-cv-00876)) after HHS failed to respond adequately to a September 28, 2018, FOIA request seeking:
- All contracts and related documentation between FDA and Advanced Biosciences Resources (ABR) for the provision of human fetal tissue to be used in humanized mice research.
- All records reflecting the disbursement of funds to ABR for the provision of human fetal tissue to be used in humanized mice research.
- All guidelines and procedural documents provided to ABR by FDA relating to the acquisition and extraction of human fetal tissue for its provision to the FDA for humanized mice research.
- All communications between FDA officials and employees and representatives of ABR related to the provision by ABR to the FDA of human fetal tissue for the purpose of humanized mice research.
The new production of records shows a June 28, 2017, email exchange with the subject line “FDA RFQ” (Request for Quotation) between a redacted FDA contract specialist and an ABR official named Ms. Larton, in which the FDA official tells the ABR official, “I am tasked with the purchase of tissues suitable for HM [humanized mice] research. I would like to request a quote. Please review the Statement of Work and quote your pricing as outlined.” She then includes a table for 16 “Human Fetal Tissue – Liver”, 16 “Human Fetal Tissue – Thymus”, 16 HIV, HepA, HepB, HepC tests, and shipping and delivery. The Statement of Work notes:
The Division of Applied Regulatory Science (DARS) OCP/OTS/CDER is conducting a research program to evaluate the usefulness of humanized mice (HM) for regulatory purposes. The HM are created by surgical implantation of human tissue into mice that have multiple genetic mutations that block the development of the mouse immune system at a very early stage. The absence of the mouse immune system allows the human tissues to grow and develop into functional human tissues. As part of this process DARS needs to repeatedly acquire the proper type of tissues. In order for the humanization to proceed correctly we need to obtain fetal tissue with a specific set of specialized characteristics.
Among the specific characteristics are that the tissue be “Age range 16-24 weeks” and “Tissue must be fresh and never frozen.” An ABR official responds, saying “Your quote is attached.
In a June 12, 2017, email thread related to a “contract closeout” of a $24,500 contract between the FDA and Advanced Bioscience Resources (ABR) in a project titled “Human Tissue”. An FDA official emails an ABR official asking to “confirm all the items/services requested under this order were delivered and all payments processed, so that I may close out this contract…. Our records indicate funds in the amount of $15,090.00 to be de-obligated as a result of this closeout.” A screen shot of a database (called UFMS) print-out indicates a “Matched Amount” of $9,410. The difference between the “matched amount” and the contract value is $15,090. An ABR official responds on June 26, 2017, saying, “I confirm there are no outstanding invoices or [redacted] P.O. #HHSF223201510746P, and it is my understanding that there are no pending requests for tissue procurements on this P.O. at this time.”