NIH pushes for biomarker research to catch up with needs of kids

In an effort to advance drug and disease research in children, a unit of the National Institutes of Health aims to fund studies of biomarkers of adult ailments for use in pediatric patients.

Like it or not, scientists study biomarkers for adult patients far more often than their pediatric counterparts. The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) wants to remedy the imbalance of attention given to adult biomarker research with new funding opportunities for researchers with plans to study biomarkers for a variety of uses in children.

In a funding announcement, the NIH unit highlighted the fact that biomarkers related to diseases such as asthma, diabetes and epilepsy require additional study for use with children, whose developing systems often present markers differently than do those of adults with the same ailments. The agency has opened the funding opportunity to all manner of pediatric markers, including those used for diagnosis, prognosis, clinical trial endpoints, gauging toxicity and predicting treatment responses.

As GenomeWeb noted, the agency debuted the program for advancing biomarkers from adult studies to pediatric investigations two years ago to improve development of therapies for children. The NIH aims to lure scientists into tackling therapeutic needs of kids, who are often an afterthought in drug research that has historically put adult patients first.

The research community has been reeling from underfunded NIH budgets, and that problem is likely to persist as the agency has already projected a 5% drop in spending. Yet scientists with bright ideas for translating useful biomarkers from adult studies for use in kids could find funding through this grant opportunity.  

- check out GenomeWeb's article (reg. req.)