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NIDA to Fund Small Businesses Developing Modified RNA Tools

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Institute on Drug Abuse plans to commit $2 million in Fiscal Year 2015 to spur small businesses to development of new tools for monitoring and manipulating covalently modified eukaryotic mRNAs and regulatory RNAs, NIDA said today.

There are an "extremely limited" number of tools for monitoring and manipulating modified RNA and regulatory RNAs, and NIDA wants to fund small businesses to develop these tools through its Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer grants.

NIDA said that new tools for doing so could enable researchers to discover how these modifications are involved in HIV infection and progression, and the molecular mechanisms involved in substance abuse and psychiatric disorders.

The funding will support efforts to develop tools and products such as antibodies or other affinity reagents for detection, quantitation, or immunoprecipitation of modified RNAs; assay systems or reagents that facilitate the discovery, detection, or quantitation of modified RNAs, circular RNAs, or edited RNAs; and the development or adaptation of nanoscale sequencing devices or other equipment for identification and quantitation of sequence-specific RNA modifications.

Other projects targeted also include the development of algorithms or analysis software to facilitate the identification of modified, circular, or edited RNAs from high-throughput sequencing datasets; and the development of constructs, kits, small molecule, or genetic resources that enable researchers to manipulate modified RNAs to enable investigation into their biological or disease functions.

NIDA said it plans to fund between eight and 13 awards to develop these tools.

FY 2015 begins on Oct. 1, 2014.

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