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NIH Commits $1.5M in FY ’08 to Study Role of Non-Coding RNAs in Addiction

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Institutes of Health said on Friday that it plans to award up to $1.5 million in fiscal year 2008 to study the role of non-coding RNAs and other post-transcriptional regulatory mechanisms in addictive processes. 
 
The awards, administered under the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health, and Addiction, will support the identification and functional characterization of ncRNAs and post-transcriptional regulators involved in neuronal development, neuronal function, disease etiology, and disease treatment. 
 
Proposed studies “must improve our understanding of the role of ncRNAs and post-transcriptional regulators in CNS mechanisms associated with drug abuse and addiction such as neuroplasticity, drug dependence, and sensitization,” NIH said in a request for applications released on Friday.
 
While studies of the neuronal functions of ncRNAs are “still in their infancy,” NIH noted in the RFA that “specific ncRNAs have been shown to regulate dendritic spine development, neuronal fate specification and differentiation, and synaptic protein synthesis.”
 
NIH acknowledged that the role that ncRNAs may play in addiction is still relatively unknown, but said that ncRNAs are “likely to be important in some brain and neuronal changes associated with drug exposure and drug dependence and warrant further investigation.”
 
NIH has committed a total of $1.5 million for this program under two “sister” RFAs: One under the R01 mechanism, which is appropriate for “mature projects with substantial preliminary data,” and another under the R03 mechanism, which is best suited for projects with limited or no preliminary data.
 
NIH expects to fund up to 3 R01 awards and between three and eight R03 awards under the RFAs. 
 
Letters of intent are due Feb. 13, 2008, and applications are due March 13, 2008.