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NHLBI to Fund Small Businesses Developing Point-of-Care Tools

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute sees rapid point-of-care devices as offering great potential to help advance personalized medicine, and it plans to fund several research projects starting next year to spur development of these tools.

NHLBI specifically wants to provide funding to small businesses and research institutes seeking to develop POC technologies for use in diagnosing and guiding treatment of heart, lung, blood, and sleep disorders.

The Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer grants ideally will support development projects that focus on using advanced technologies, like biochips, microfluidics, and mobile tools in their POC instruments, the institute said in twin funding announcements yesterday.

The SBIR/STTR research projects the grants will fund may seek to develop a range of technologies, such as a portable biochip device for DNA extraction and high-throughput genomic analyses; a nano-sensor or biochip device to determine nutritional indices from blood and urine; sputum test devices to monitor or diagnose lung diseases; sensor devices capable of detecting hemoglobin levels for use in therapeutic decision-making; and improved microfluidics assays and POC EKGs to detect myocardial infarction, among others.

The biggest value in POC tools may come from their capabilities to improve or enhance diagnosis of critical problems, such as congestive heart failure, acute coronary syndrome, coagulopathy, and asthma. These technologies can lead to faster interventions, particularly when they are used with electronic health records or mobile technologies, and when combined with goal directed therapies.

POC tools also can enable real-time detection of biomarkers and clinical lab measures, rapid, standardized diagnosis, improve assay and test throughput, and they can enhance accessibility to new technologies for diagnosing diseases, NHLBI noted. They also are useful for clinical research, making it easier to recruit, gather follow-up measurements, rapidly dispense interventions, and they can enable research participants to be enrolled in less sophisticated research environments and in remote locations with few resources.

NHLBI said it plans to fund around six new Phase I SBIR awards in 2014 and 2015, and expects to fund the program with as much as $10.2 million over the next five years.

For the STTR projects, NHBLI plans to commit up to $4.1 million over four years.

The National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences also will provide some of the funding, and plans to award one Phase I and Phase II grant in 2014 and 2015, respectively, under both the SBIR and STTR programs.

NCATS will commit $150,000 in 2014 and $500,000 in 2015 and 2016 to fund these SBIR/STTR grants.