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NIAMS to Fund Small Businesses for Inflammatory Disease Biomarker Tools

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases seeks to support small businesses that are developing potential biomarker platforms to predict the onset and progression of inflammatory diseases, the institute said yesterday.

Under the Small Business Innovation Research Fast Track grant program, NIAMS plans to award up to $450,000 in 2014 for two Phase I projects, and it later may provide up to $1.5 million in total costs for each of the projects.

Recent advancements in genomics, proteomics, and metabolomics have "significantly facilitated" biomarker research, NIAMS noted in the new RFA. Now, the institute wants to use SBIR grants to fund projects to test or validate such platforms that can predict the onset or progression of inflammatory diseases or that can determine the pharmacodynamics, safety, or efficacy of drugs that target these diseases.

These new tools would be used to evaluate a range of complex diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis; systemic lupus erythematosus; scleroderma; psoriasis; rosacea; acne, and others.

The candidate platforms may include, but are not limited to: metabolomic assays of disease progression; platforms that monitor and predict disease progression; proteomic assays of therapeutic pharmacodynamic biomarkers in skin or blood specimens; or the development and verification of algorithms of disease progression.

The institute has identified four distinct stages in the biomarker development process that it might support, including initial screening projects, feasibility studies, biomarker development projects, and validation efforts to evaluate the markers in a clinical cohort or specimen collection.

In the RFA, NIAMS said it also expects that these SBIR projects will evaluate putative biomarker platforms in well-characterized clinical cohorts or specimen collections.