Cures, treatments for diseases, illnesses being slowed by budget impasse

JUPITER, Fla. -- An extended government shutdown may have a significant impact on biomedical research being done in South Florida.

At The Scripps Research Institute and other research institutions in the region, the shutdown has led to worries that research being done to  find cures and treatments for diseases and illnesses --  already slowed down by the automatic spending cuts known as the sequester -- will be delayed further or canceled.

"Almost everybody has a story about a really important scientific question that they were researching that they are now going to have to stop that line of research,"  Laura Niedernhofer, an associate professor in the Department of Metabolism & Aging said.

Research on drugs that could potentially treat people with nicotine addiction, diabetes and curb chronic diseases in the elderly may never be completed, Niedernhofer  said.

Jennifer Zeitzer, a director of legislative affairs at the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, said the decisions being made by Congress "could come back to haunt us" in ten years.

"The nice thing about diseases is that it doesn't discriminate against political party," Zeitzer said. "You have an equal chance of getting some kind of horrible disease as your neighbor does."

Once the budget impasse is resolved, fewer federal dollars were expected to be made available to fund research projects in South Florida and elsewhere, researchers said.

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