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Florida bills signed to target cancer and rare diseases

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TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday signed bills designed to help boost research into cancer and rare diseases.

One of the bills (SB 7072) involves distribution of money to cancer centers across the state through the Casey DeSantis Cancer Research Program, named after Florida's first lady. DeSantis last week signed a budget for the 2024-2025 fiscal year that includes $127.5 million for the program. Casey DeSantis was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2021, but the governor's office said in 2022 she was cancer-free.

Another of the measures signed Tuesday (SB 1582) includes creating the Andrew John Anderson Pediatric Rare Disease Grant Program. The program is named after the son of Rep. Adam Anderson, R-Palm Harbor. Grant amounts will be subject to appropriations by the Legislature, with money designed to go toward "scientific and clinical research to further the search for new diagnostics, treatments and cures for pediatric rare diseases." The new budget, which will take effect July 1, provides $500,000 for the grant program.

A third bill signed by DeSantis (HB 885) will authorize the health-insurance program for state workers to provide coverage for biomarker testing. The National Cancer Institute defines a biomarker as a "biological molecule found in blood, other body fluids, or tissues that is a sign of a normal or abnormal process, or of a condition or disease."

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