Researchers: More funding necessary to study Zika

Posted at 5:41 PM, Aug 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-11 07:20:55-04



At the Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, they have been zeroing in on Zika.

The researchers are looking into everything from a vaccine to therapeutic antibodies.

There are at least 22 locally transmitted cases of Zika in South Florida. As that number continues to grow, so does the need for information.

MAP: Tracking Zika cases in Florida | Special Section: Zika in Florida

We already know some about the serious risks the virus poses to pregnant women. Yet, there are still so many unknowns about those risks and if there are any other health impacts associated with the virus.


However, according to Scripps researchers, they are hitting a roadblock on their mission to answers those questions.

Associate professor Dr. Tim Tellinghuisen says more money means more resources and scientific staff for more research. “I think getting money into the labs here to study virus and help develop treatments is critical.”

Congress failed to pass a Zika funding package in June. And now everyone is on vacation.

“How could something like Zika become a partisan football?” asked Congressman Patrick Murphy, who met with the team of Zika researchers at the Scripps Research Institute Wednesday.

Murphy, like Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio, is calling on the U.S. Congress to end its recess early to get funding for Zika passed.

“We should be in Washington DC now figuring this out,” said Murphy. “How to make sure funding is there. How to make sure the resources are there so the researchers and to their job.”

There is another interesting challenge the scientists are facing.

Dr. Tellinghuisen says what  really helps their research is having blood from someone who has the Zika virus.

However, because of health privacy and protection laws, that blood is hard to come by.

Congressman Murphy said he will investigate whether his office could do anything to make that blood available to researchers..