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Cyprus

Budget cuts to hit genetic research

Institute of Neurology and Genetics CING

THE CYPRUS Institute of Neurology and Genetics (CING) is in danger of having to downsize because its budget has been reduced.

Head of CING Philippos Patsalis said yesterday that cuts have already made the institute’s existence difficult and he expects the coming years to be even harder.

“At this moment we’re trying to make it through the difficulties of the financial crisis as the institute’s budget has been reduced dramatically reaching a very worrying level,” he said at an event to promote this year’s Telethon, an annual fund-raising event held in six EU countries.

CING operates in the field of education by providing postgraduate masters and doctorate programmes through the School of Molecular Medicine and in the field of research. These programmes are used to find new methods of diagnosis and treatments for genetic and other neurological, neuromuscular disorders.

“The scope of our research covers the full range of diseases such as cancer, heart disease, viral infections and rare or frequent neurological syndromes,” Patsalis said.

He added that the institute takes advantage of EU programmes to carry out research.

“Another area of activity of the institute is the service sector, where we offer diagnostic, laboratory or clinical services and the reason patient wards and an outpatient clinic exist at CING,” he said.

Patsalis revealed that around 60,000 examinations are carried out every year for different conditions, with between 12 and 15 thousand patients visiting the institute’s outpatient clinic.

Conditions include multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and other genetic diseases.

“CING is a centre of reference for Cyprus for many conditions and has many national programmes such as the programme for the prevention of Friedrich’s ataxia, hereditary breast cancer, colon cancer and the programme for the prevention of Down Syndrome,” he said.

The institute is considered one of the top research centres in Europe and is one of the largest in the surrounding area, employing over 200 scientists.

The Telethon is a fund-raising event which also aims to make the public more aware of genetic and neurological disorders.

“The top target is to raise money to help our research so we can eventually diagnose and cure these conditions,” Patsalis added.

Patsalis said a large portion of the proceeds will be given to patients in need through the Muscular Dystrophy Association which covers the needs of patients such as physiotherapy, hydrotherapy and purchase of medical equipment. The association also offers home care and other services that are not covered by the state.

The Telethon began on Friday with a fair at AcropolisPark and will finish on Thursday after a televised fundraiser on Sigma TV at 9pm.

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