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NIH to Fund Development of Epigenetic Imaging and Analysis Tools

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Institutes of Health expects to use up to $3.5 million to fund efforts to develop technologies that could be used to visualize or analyze epigenetic changes inside living animals.

Funded through the NIH Common Fund as part of the Roadmap Epigenomics Program, these grants are aimed at supporting researchers who are taking bold approaches to developing ways to image and analyze epigenetic changes. The epigenetic features that are of particular interest to NIH include epigenetic marks, modifying enzymes, effector molecules and their activities, and other measures of chromatin state.

The Roadmap Epigenomics Program is focused on targeting and overcoming the scientific gaps in understanding how genetic changes can have profound effects on human health, can be involved in disease pathogenesis, and can be involved in a range of complex human diseases.

Currently available tools to determine the epigenetic state of tissues in vivo are "extremely limited," NIH said in its grant announcement, adding that transforming technologies are needed to allow researchers to monitor and understand epigenetic events.

Scientists seeking funding may propose advancing their tools in any in vivo system. These could focus on developing associated optical probes, radiotracers, or ligands for the in vivo imaging of epigenetic modifications, modifying enzymes, or effector molecules.

Researchers also could use the grants to develop imaging technologies for monitoring or modifying enzymes at a cellular, tissue, or organ level in living organisms. Other programs could be used to develop tools that enable in vivo determination of the epigenetic state of human tissues that are not readily available, such as bone, heart, or brain.

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