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NCI to Fund Mitochondrial Biomarker Research

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Cancer Institute will fund research programs that will develop and validate new mitochondrial-related biomarkers that would be used for cancer detection, diagnosis, risk assessment, and response to treatments, according to a National Institutes of Health program announcement.

Because the types of projects investigators pursue may vary, the NCI has not limited the dollar amount of each R01 award, and said “the size and duration of each award will also vary.” However, funding of projects may not exceed five years, it noted.
The goal of the program is to stimulate research on either mutations in mtDNA and/or mitochondrial proteome analysis. The funding will be focused on “discrete, specified, circumscribed projects based upon preliminary data,” the NIH said in the announcement.
NCI expects researchers will use the funding to pursue a number of different lines of research, and proposed several lines for investigation. It listed a series of questions that researchers seeking NCI funds may want to ask, such as:
  • Are mitochondrial genomic and proteomic profiles useful for identification of individuals who are at high-risk for cancer before clinical manifestation of disease?
  • Is an increased ratio of haplotypes within the mitochondrial genome associated with risk of developing cancer? If so, can these parameters help explain racial and ethnic differences in cancer risk?
  • Are there modifiable or host factors that can influence the correlation between mtDNA mutations, mitochondrial dysfunction, and cancer risk?
  • Are alterations in the mitochondrial genome and proteome associated with intermediate disease states in the neoplastic pathway, such as precursor lesions?
  • Are mtDNA alterations (such as somatic mutations and structural rearrangements including duplications and deletions) correlated with development of various cancers?  
More questions NCI would like investigators to pursue, as well as more information about the program, can be found here.

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