WASHINGTON—NIH is looking into charges that it has improperly funded research on tissues and organs that have been removed from live human fetuses.

The investigation stems from allegations by Jeremy Rifkin of the Foundation on Economic Trends, that the National Disease Research Interchange (NDRI) is not following appropriate protocols to establish death before obtaining the tissue and providing it to researchers. F. William Dommel, of NIH’s Office of Protection from Research Risks, said the investigation’s scope and speed will depend in part on the material made available by Rifkin’s group.

Ongoing research in fetal tissue transplantation promises the possibility of new treatments for a range of diseases including diabetes and Parkinson's Don Ralbovsky, an NIH spokesman, estimated that fewer than five scientists nationwide are working with human fetal transplants on NIH grants. Some one percent of the 9,000 tissues the NDRI will this year come from fetuses.

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