Thousands of genetically engineered lab mice and years of research are believed to be the latest casualties following the fierce Hurricane Sandy that hit East Coast America this week.
Other biological research materials stored in freezers and refrigerators at New York University Hospital are also likely to have been destroyed along with the mice when the hospital’s Smilow building flooded and power was cut, media reports have claimed.
“Animal resource staff was on site continuously to mitigate the damage from the storm, but due to the speed and force of the surge, animal rescue attempts were unsuccessful,” a statement released by the university said.
Concerns are that years of medical research could have been lost, especially if the research had not been shared with other locations. In addition, the time it takes to breed the appropriate mice means much of the research may need to start from scratch, scientists told the media.
“Graduate students and post docs, their careers depend on publishing successful scientific research and if they lose their animals that’s going to set them back. I’m making it sound dire here, but it probably is,” Erich Jarvis, a neurobiologist at Duke University, told LiveScience.
In addition, several pharmaceutical companies had to shut up shop as the Category 1 storm slammed into the East Coast of the USA. Pfizer closed its New York headquarters and New Jersey sites on Monday and Tuesday, as did the Johnson & Johnson sites in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, while the East Coast operations of GlaxoSmithKline, Novo Nordisk, Roche, Bristol Myers-Squibb, AstraZeneca, Sanofi and Novartis followed suite.
Meanwhile, Hurricane Sandy also forced a number of companies to delay their earnings announcements by several days. Among those affected included Pfizer, Vertex, Acorda, MannKind Corp and Life Technologies Corp.