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NCI Seeks New Assays for Detecting Carcinogens

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Cancer Institute will give grants for US-based researchers studying new technologies for detecting and evaluating carcinogens, including assays that use markers for DNA damage, oncogenic contaminants, and other genetic and cellular methods.

The "Technology Development for the Detection and Evaluation of Chemical and Biological Carcinogens" program will fund Small Business Innovation Research Grants that will develop high-throughput assays that measure the presence and/or concentration of biological or chemical carcinogenic agents, NCI said in a funding notice.

The Phase I grants may receive up to $300,000 over two years and the Phase II grants may receive up to $750,000 over two years.

Technologies that are currently available are often limited in sample throughput and may be prohibitively expensive, according to NCI. Improvements, new technologies, and assays are needed to support basic research needs, including those that analyze carcinogenic properties directly, that analyze molecular processes and markers of key carcinogenic pathways, and which analyze the emergence of cancer cells.

NCI is particularly interested in tools, assays, and devices that will enable high sample throughput and multiplex assays. These also could include technologies that are generally easy to use, such as multi-well plate formats and others that allow multiplexed readout, assays that require only the simple addition of reagents, as well as endpoints that can be translated into automated formats, including absorbance, fluorescence, flow cytometry, cell-based imaging, and others. These technologies should be robust, reproducible, and eventually adaptable to full implementation, NIH said in the announcement.

Specific examples of this research include new assays in the following areas: detection of pre-cancerous cellular markers reflecting DNA damage: identification of cellular markers that can be used to assess carcinogen exposure; detection of oncogenic contaminants in food, food components, and beverages; detection of oncogenic viruses and/or bacteria in experimental, environmental, or clinical samples; mutagenic and genotoxic assays that are pertinent to mammalian carcinogenesis, and other areas.

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