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NIH Alzheimer's Initiative to Fund Small Business Biomarker Studies

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – As part of a plan to inject $50 million into Alzheimer's disease studies announced last month, the National Institutes of Health will fund new research by small businesses that seek to discover disease and drug-related biomarkers.

NIH plans to use funding from a number of its institutes through its Small Business Innovation Research and Technology Transfer grants to support a wide range of research at small businesses, including biomarker studies.

These grants were funded under the National Alzheimer's Project Act, which provides a total of $50 million this year and $80 million in 2013 through the Department of Health and Human Services for new research and other initiatives.

"We are getting a far better handle on the molecular basis of Alzheimer's disease, providing real hope for developing entirely new and targeted approaches to treatment and prevention," NIH Director Francis Collins said when he and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the Alzheimer's initiative last month.

"In another remarkable advance, recent applications of the genome-wide association study approach have been important in defining pathways involved in Alzheimer's susceptibility, including prominent roles for lipid metabolism and inflammation. These unexpected results provide the potential of completely new approaches to therapy," Collins said.

The National Human Genome Research Institute plans to fund small business research to discover biomarkers for drug efficacy and safety and to identify and develop personalized treatments for mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease.

The National Institute of Aging will support studies to identify and develop novel biomarkers for early diagnosis of Alzheimer's and amnestic mild cognitive impairment, including neuroimaging biomarkers and biofluid markers found in blood or cerebrospinal fluid.

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences will fund research into biomarkers of early Alzheimer's disease onset and exposure in the brain from banked samples from autopsies.

NIH said in two new funding announcements that it will provide up to $2 million this year for each of these SBIR and the STTR grants.