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NIH Seeks to Fund MDx, Biomarker Development for Liver Diseases

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) — The National Institutes of Health plans to fund small businesses that will develop technologies for advancing the means of diagnosing, treating, and preventing liver disease, including biomarker research, and molecular diagnostics and reagents, among others.

Led by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the New Technologies for Liver Disease grants will fund small business innovation research grants with up to $100,000 for Phase I awards lasting a year or less, and up to $750,000 for Phase II funding for a total period of up to two years. NIH said in the funding announcement that the award levels and project periods are guidelines, and it encourages applicants to propose a budget and project duration that is "reasonable and appropriate for completion of the research project."

The research areas could include development of practical means of diagnosing liver diseases; biomarkers for disease activity and stage; non-invasive tests for inflammation, fibrosis, and fat in the liver; biologics and reagents for preventing or treating the disease; and other programs.

NIDDK, and several other of the NIH institutes, seek new diagnostic assays that could be developed into accurate, commercially available tests for several liver diseases and conditions. These could include a screening assay for Wilson disease that might be used for newborns, adolescents, and adults with the disease, or a non-invasive means of assessing copper or iron content in the liver.

Other diagnostic assays could include tests for diagnosing progressive familial intrahepatic cholestasis, or accurate and reproducible diagnostic tests for acetaminophen toxicity and alcoholic liver disease.

NIH also would like to fund development of biomarkers and more sensitive imaging techniques that could allow for non-invasive means of assessing the liver. It also would fund development of "molecular signatures of major forms of hepatotoxicity for diagnostic use during genomic, proteomic and/or metabolomic" testing.

More information is available on the NIH's website.