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NICHD Wants Adult Biomarkers Tailored for Pediatric Use

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Institutes of Health wants to fund new research projects that will seek to use biomarkers that have already been developed for use in adults and tailor or adapt those markers for use in pediatric medicine.

The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development aims to support efforts that will address the need for biomarkers for diagnosis, prognosis, toxicity, response to therapy, and disease progression in children, a complex population that has not been targeted for biomarker development programs as much as adults.

NICHD said in three funding announcements on Friday that it will fund research project grants (R01), small grants for short-term projects (R03), and exploratory research efforts (R21) that target biomarkers that have already been studied extensively in adults, have been correlated with a clinical observation, and which have demonstrated applications in pediatric medicine.

NICHD said that looking at biomarkers that have already been well studied and validated in adults is the most efficient, expedient, and economical way to begin to develop markers aimed directly at children. The institute also noted that many new advances in omics technologies have not yet been harnessed to study drug efficacy and toxicity in pediatrics.

Many biomarkers that have been proposed or developed in pediatrics have not been given the rigorous level of evaluation and validation that is required for their use in clinical trials, and the data supporting their use came from a small number of patients, NICHD added.

These grants will fund a range of biomarker-related studies, such as efforts to identify or apply adult cDNA microarray, protoemic, and metabolomic biomarkers for pediatric use; to characterize the effect of adult biomarkers when applied in children, using biomarkers to assess immune responsiveness in children compared to adults; and to study related biomarkers to determine whether more accurate results can be generated by using composite markers, rather than individual ones.

NIH originally launched this funding program, called "Biomarkers: Bridging Pediatric and Adult Therapeutics," in 2011.