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NIAID Seeks Radiation Biomarkers

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) –The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases plans to fund research that will discover and develop predictive biomarkers for radiation injuries in civilian populations, and will spend $4 million next year on up to 11 grants for these studies.

The research will seek to develop genomic and other biomarkers that can predict radiation injuries, which could come months after an exposure.

These biomarkers ideally would be used to predict acute and delayed radiation injuries to organs and tissues in order plan triage and make medical decisions after a radiological terrorist attack. Such markers would be particularly valuable because radiation injuries can take days or weeks before they present symptoms, such as fibrosis, and individuals differ in their sensitivity to radiation.

These NIAID grants are part of a larger effort by the National Institutes of Health to identify, characterize, and develop countermeasures against radiological or nuclear attacks.

For these biomarkers to be useful, they would need to be linked to relevant clinical outcomes, such as organ failure, and it would need to be shown that the change in the marker is related to the radiation exposure and not other factors. Tests developed based on these markers should be rapid, reliable, inexpensive, and easy to use, said NIAID.

Investigators may use these grants to develop radiation injury biomarkers to measure or characterize gene and protein expression, DNA or protein modifications, metabolomic or lipidomic changes, or cytogenetic, inflammatory, biochemical, and other changes.