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NIH to Fund Development of High-Throughput Screening Assays

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Institutes of Health plans to fund research efforts to develop assays for high-throughput screening of specific biological targets and disease mechanisms, and to stimulate new collaborations with screening centers that have the tools to implement HTS assays for the discovery and development of small molecule chemical probes.

In a funding announcement yesterday, the NIH said it aims to "establish a stream of scientifically and technologically outstanding assays" to be used by the NIH Molecular Libraries Production Centers Network, part of the Molecular Libraries Program, and by other academic centers.

NIH wants researchers to develop assays for specific targets and disease mechanisms that are relevant to several of its institutes, including the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and others.

A key aim of the program is to support development of novel assays that focus on areas and use approaches that have not already been extensively studied in other settings.

These research proposals may include assays to identify molecular markers that might be useful for identifying or tracking a particular cell or function; assays for cellular or molecular phenotypes; modulation of expression, such as RNA splicing, of genes of interest; assays that biochemically incorporate an entire metabolic or macromolecular biosynthetic pathway; development of assays for molecular chaperones or molecules that improve post-translational targeting, or improve protein assembly involving mutant proteins responsible for errors of metabolism, cancers, or rare diseases; screens involving immunological targets; model organism-based assays; assays for compounds that identify multi-protein signaling complexes; and others.

NIH has not set funding limits for these studies, although it said it expects projects will last up to three years.