Boston Blog

Multi-platform “omics” and nanoparticles among 20 new Massachusetts NIH grants funded in April

The National Institutes of Health funded 208 grants  in Massachusetts April, for a total of $91 million. That includes 20 new research grants, including these three:

 CHEMICAL INHIBITORS TO DEFINE AN ESSENTIAL M. TUBERCULOSIS SIGNALING NETWORK

 Veteran TB researcher Robert Husson of Children’s Hospital in Boston is the PI for a $1.3 million collbaorative project using small molecule chemical inhibitors to characterize enzymes that regulate tuberculosis. These protein kinases,  PknA and Pkn, are potential drug targets  — and the key to possible drugs – as they regulate downstream proteins and pathways. The grant promises that the investigators will bring “together state of the art expertise in transcriptomics, phosphoproteomics, lipidomics, metabolomics and computational biology…” described as a “multi-platform “omics” approach.

POPULATION-BASED REFERENCE RANGES FOR ESTRADIOL AND ESTRONE IN MEN

The Framingham Heart Study (FHS) is one of four men’s health cohorts that will use a $536,000 grant from The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases  from to look at the role of  estradiol (E2) and estrone (E1)  in men’s health and disease remains poorly understood. The researchers will identify reference limits and examine how deviations associated with health outcomes. The other cohorts are the European Male Aging Study (EMAS), the Osteoporotic Fractures in Men Study (MrOS), the Concord Health and Ageing in Men Project (CHAMP).

DEVELOPMENT OF FCRN-TARGETED NANOPARTICLES FOR EFFICIENT ORAL DELIVERY OF INSULIN

The Laboratory of Nanomedicine and Biomaterials  $764 NIBIB at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital won $764,000 from the National Institure of Biomedical Imaagin and Bioengineering to develop a nanoparticle delivery system that will allow the creation of oral versions of boilogics and other injectable drugs.The grant notes that “ key challenge in the oral administration of biologics such as hormones, antibodies, growth factors, enzymes, and vaccines is overcoming the physiological barriers presented by the gastrointestinal tract. These include extreme pH environments, enzymatic degradation, and poor permeability across the intestinal epithelium.”  PI Omid Farokhzad, M.D., has already launched a start- up called BIND Biosciences to commercialize similar drug deliver approaches.  The Cambridge company made the news recently. Scientific American reports that that the company’s  new tumor-targeting, nanoparticle-based compound is now in clinical trials   after showing promise in both mice and monkeys. “Although this first trial is small, with only 17 patients, and still ongoing, researchers are reporting some positive results, and no obvious major safety setbacks, according to a paper published online April 4 in Science Translational Medicine.” More on this group and their efforts here.

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