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NINDS, NIAAA, NIDA to Fund Small-Molecule Probe Studies of Neurological & Drug-related Diseases

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) — Three institutes of the National Institutes of Health plan to fund molecular and genomics studies aimed at developing small-molecule probes that could be used to study biological functioning in the nervous system, specifically in order to develop pharmacological therapeutic targets.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and the National Institute of Drug Abuse will grant a total of $1.75 million in fiscal 2009 to support up to eight studies using molecular, genomic, and other sciences.
These investigators will already have identified probe candidates by small-molecule screening, will use in vitro assays designed for these collections, and will show how the structures of these small molecules are related to their biological activity.
In the coming year, NINDS will grant roughly $1 million for four studies, NIAAA will provide around $250,000 for one award, and NIDA will give around $500,000 for two or three awards.
Researchers could use the funds to study gene expression in the nervous system, including effects on transcription, translation, or RNA splicing, and protein interactions that effect glial cell signaling.
Studies also could focus on cellular or molecular phenotypes that are relevant to nervous system functioning, as well as therapeutic targets associated with neurological disorders, alcoholism, and substance abuse. Nervous system function studies in model organisms such as Drosophila, C. elegans, and zebrafish also may receive funding.
Any in vitro testing methodologies the researchers propose should already have been developed, characterized, and implemented in a medium- or high-throughput screening program in which hit compounds to a proposed target were identified and characterized.
Researchers should already have identified one or more distinct small molecules, and should have a strategy for probe design and for small-molecule acquisition.
More information about the program is available here.

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