Sen. Specter proposes new research funding agency

Republican Senator Arlen Specter is ramping up his efforts to secure funding for drug development. Since landing $10.4 billion for the NIH in the latest stimulus, Specter has been in hot water with other Senate Republicans who opposed the $787 billion package. Undeterred, the Senator has now proposed a new bill that would authorize the NIH to include the stimulus injection in its base budget, bringing the total to $40 billion, ScienceInsider reports. The bill also includes a proposal for the creation of a new agency--the Cures Acceleration Network--to dole out funding to cash strapped biotechs and support biomedical research at universities and patient groups. Specter says he hopes to include his proposal in President Obama's healthcare reform plan.

"I believe that we can live not only longer lives, but healthier lives, by harnessing and applying the genius of our biomedical research community and getting about the task of accelerating cures," Specter said at a clinical research meeting in Chicago on Saturday.

Specter, a two-time cancer survivor, is concerned that struggling biotech companies are increasingly cutting or shelving development programs for major diseases due to the credit crunch.

"Without adequate funding, these companies will be unable to take these products to the development state, the basic research done by the NIH will be lost, and many patients will die waiting for drugs and devices to give them a better quality of life," Specter explained.

- read the ScienceInsider piece
- check out the Yahoo News story