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NIA to Fund Planning Projects for Epigenetics Studies of Age-related Conditions

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The National Institute on Aging plans to award up to $800,000 next year to investigators' efforts to develop and plan research projects that will examine epigenetic factors involved in age-related diseases, NIA said Friday.

NIA plans to use cooperative agreements to fund two research teams that will plan and design research projects that will investigate epigenetic risk factors for age-related diseases and conditions, or will undertake small-scale pilot projects focused on the same goals. NIA expects that these planning-stage and pilot projects will receive more funding when they are fully developed.

The institute said these studies will focus on using epigenetics to address important questions in the emerging field of geroscience, which aims to relate the biology of aging to the development of chronic diseases and conditions that are prevalent among older populations.

The planning projects, which will involve multidisciplinary teams of investigators, will evaluate the technical requirements, types of epigenetic data, clinical parameters, and human subject cohorts that will be required to identify aging-specific epigenetic features that contribute to the risk of developing age-related degenerative conditions.

Although epigenetic factors are not likely to be the only factors that explain the risk of chronic and degenerative diseases, epigenetic and related sequencing and gene expression data may be obtained to identify epigenetic factors involved in these conditions and then tested experimentally, NIA said.

Investigators will use the grants to pursue a range of activities in preparation for larger studies into the epigenetics of aging, including identifying the epigenetic parameters for studying aging as a risk factor; identifying suitable human populations or studies that have been characterized clinically for one or more diseases or conditions associated with aging; assessing suitable tissues and design strategies for obtaining them; and developing safety monitoring plans, consent forms, and project and budget timelines for studies that would identify epigenetic features that are associated with aging as a risk factor.

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