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NIDA to Fund Search for Biosignatures for Drug Exposure

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Institute of Drug Abuse plans to award $2 million to scientists seeking peripheral biomarkers in animal models that can identify exposure to psychoactive drugs.

The goal is to find molecular markers that can identify exposure but not the presence of the drug, and is based on research that NIDA said has shown that some changes in the brain persist for weeks or even months after the most recent time the drug was taken. Another aim is to find out if these peripheral biomarkers could be used as surrogates for changes that take place in the brain that are caused by drug exposure, withdrawal, or relapse.

NIDA expects to support between five and seven individual awards of up to $200,000 per year, and a total of up to $400,000 over a three-year period.

The “Biosignatures of Chronic Drug Exposure” program will study markers that could be collected from biofluids and cells, including buccal and breath samples, with the goal of establishing assays that “are simple, fast, cheap, sensitive, selective, and objective,” NIDA said in its request for applications.

Researchers applying for the funding may plan to pursue proteomic or metabolomic approaches, as well as biochemical and morphological studies.

The projects should serve as feasibility studies that will identify the best class or classes of molecules, including proteins, peptides, RNA, miRNA, or other molecules, that can be used for assay development.

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