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Microbiome-Brain Research to Get $2.8M Boost from NIDA, NCCIH

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health have earmarked roughly $2.8 million in fiscal year 2017 to fund a series of small business grants supporting the development of laboratory and diagnostics tools for microbiome-brain research.

Recent studies suggest a link between human microbiome function and neurodegenerative, neurodevelopmental, and behavioral diseases, but technological hurdles continue to hamper deeper investigations into the microbiome and its roles in the central nervous system, according to NIDA and the NCCIH funding announcements

Key among these challenges are a limited state of knowledge about how the microbiome contributes to brain diseases, poor stability of samples for microbiome analysis, the costs involved in microbiome analysis, and the time and labor involved in microbiome monitoring.

"Addressing technological gaps in microbiome research would allow researchers to perform the integrative analysis of the human microbiome; to improve our knowledge regarding the pool of mobile genetic and metabolomic elements associated with the human gut microbiome and [substance use disorders]; and to create databases or catalogs of bacterial metagenomics associated with [substance use disorders] and other CNS conditions," the agencies said.

To that end, the NIDA and the NCCIH have issued announcements for two related Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer grant opportunities that will fund the development and commercialization of new lab and diagnostic technologies and products to enhance microbiome research in neuroscience.

Under the funding opportunities, the NIDA is seeking projects involving novel analytical tools, technologies, and research resources to study the microbiome including its composition, genetics, and bioactivity. Examples include, but are not limited to, novel high-throughput sequencing approaches; flow cytometry and/or cell sorting technologies; informatics tools and resources; diagnostic tools to isolate, detect, and analyze microbial communities; clinical diagnostics for microbiome analysis, and microbiome biological markers.

The NIDA intends to fund between four and six Phase I STTR grants with a total of $1.6 million, as well as four Phase I SBIR grants worth a total of $600,000, in FY 2017.

Meanwhile, the NCCIH aims to fund research projects developing novel assays for analyzing the bioactivity of, and interactions among, prebiotics, probiotics, and commensal microbiota in modulating gut microbiota to prevent and treat a variety of diseases and disorders including those that may be associated with the brain-gut axis.

The NCCIH intends to commit $125,000 to fund one Phase I STTR grant and $500,000 to fund three Phase I SBIR grants in fiscal 2017.

Additional details about the funding opportunities can be found here and here.

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