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NIH to Fund Development of Single-Cell Analysis Technologies, Tools

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The National Institutes of Health announced this week that it is seeking grant applications from small businesses for the development and validation of next-generation single-cell analysis technologies and tools.

"Single-cell analysis has recently become an active area of research to uncover fundamental biological principles behind cell diversity, which are often masked and not amenable to the population analysis of cells," the NIH said. "The ability to measure genomic, epigenomic, transcriptomic, and metabolic status in individual cells [is] expected to provide new insight into molecular pathways in health and disease."

In order to accelerate the development and translation of single-cell analysis, the NIH said it intends to fund work on technologies that can better define cellular heterogeneity, organization, and communication rules, as well as emergent cellular properties.

Such approaches, the agency noted, should provide new analytical measures and manipulations of cellular contents, structure, and activity at the single-cell level significantly beyond those currently available. "The objectives are to accelerate the development and translation of promising concepts by focusing on overcoming technical challenges, building prototype systems, and generating novel tools toward commercialization," the NIH added.

Technologies and tools suitable for funding include devices and reagents to perform novel total molecular and/or functional analyses of a wide variety of cell types; tool combinations for multiplex analysis and/or manipulation of single cells to maximize data content over many parameters; and ones that enable and transform single-cell analysis in clinical tissue biopsies. The NIH said it is particularly interested in next-generation approaches for distinguishing heterogeneous states among cells in situ or in clinically relevant samples.

Funding will be made available as Phase I, II, and fast-tracked grants through the NIH's Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs.

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