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NIDCR to Provide $2M for Small Businesses for New Oral Disease Dx

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research will award $2 million to small businesses developing point-of-care diagnostic tests that detect oral pathogens or use biomarkers to screen for, monitor, and diagnose oral diseases.

NIDCR plans to fund six to 10 Small Business Innovation Research projects next fiscal year that will create rapid, reliable, and sensitive tools for detecting and diagnosing oral diseases, including diseases that are associated with HIV/AIDS.

There is a high demand for improved and rapid POC diagnostics for oral infections and cancers that is driven by the global burden of oral diseases, but more specific and sensitive tools than those currently available are needed, NIDCR said.

This funding will address that need by supporting efforts to develop, optimize, and validate next-generation rapid tests and POC devices that could be used to confirm initial screenings, monitor disease progression, and diagnose oral diseases caused by viruses, bacteria, and fungi.

These diagnostic tools should improve upon the tests that are currently available, NIDCR said in a funding announcement this week, meaning they should perform better at a lower cost. They should be less invasive, easy to use, require minimal lab equipment, and deliver their results swiftly and electronically.

These tests also should have the capacity to be optimized as multiplex tests for detecting more than one oral pathogen or disease biomarker at a time. Applicants also may seek to develop tests to measure HIV persistence and residual reservoirs in oral cells from patients who are undergoing antiretroviral therapy, NIDCR said.

These projects also may include efforts to develop tests to detect a low copy number of nucleic acids for pathogens in latently infected cells and quantify pathogen persistence, or which apply nanotechnologies, microfluidics, or chip-based diagnostics, or employ algorithms to perform multiple assays on a single platform.