Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Did you take a prescription medication today? If so, you have research funded by the National Institutes of Health to thank.
As Congress debates the budget and the possibility of cutting billion of dollars from cancer research, we wanted to know how that could affect breast cancer studies here in the Midlands.
The research that happens in one University of South Carolina Medical School lab could change the way doctors approach treating triple negative breast cancer, the deadliest form of the disease.
"It disproportionately affects women of color, and it disproportionately affects younger women and it's a very aggressive form of breast cancer," said Dr. Ann Ramsdell with USC.
Ramsdell knows what kind of difference a study like this could make. She's not just a scientist; she's a breast cancer survivor, faced with the possibility that her lab could go dark.
"Every drug, every therapeutic treatment option that we have available today--which by the way, those options are far too few, they're very limited," Ramsdell said. "Which is why we do this work. But all of what we do have and what is yet to come that initiates with the basic science research laboratories like mine and many, many others."
Her research has shown that at the molecular level ,there is a reason why tumors develop and spread on one side of the body and not on the other.
"We are not close to a cure in the sense of the immediate future, but what I can say is that we are definitely laying the groundwork in that direction," she adds.
But that forward movement toward a cure could be stopped with one vote by Congress.
"If our current administration decides to cut cancer research funding, that means that those researchers who are currently in place will have to either halt their research or drastically scale back on their research," said Beth Johnson, South Carolina's government relations director for the American Cancer Society. "Every major cancer breakthrough within the past 50 years has been funded and can be traced back to federally funded research.
Beth's job, plain and simple, is to advocate for patients. She wants to make sure that if you're ever diagnosed with cancer.. you have the resources you need.
"If you've ever had a mammogram you've benefited from federally funded cancer research," Johnson said. "You can't put a dollar amount to life. If you've ever had a mammogram, then you've benefited from federally-funded cancer research."
The funding from the National Institutes of Health provides for more than 3,000 jobs statewide.
"t's more than just the dollars. It's about a person," Johnson added. "It's about a mom, it's about a grandmother, it's about a sister."
About 1,650 Americans die every day from cancer.